New Orleans folk group Hurray For The Riff Raff released their fifth record, Small Town Heroes, this past February. You can listen to it above via Spotify.
Lead singer and songwriter Alynda Lee Segarra was born in the Bronx, but left home at age 17 to travel the country, and all the influences she picked up while traveling are present on this album. After falling in love with the music scene, she settled in New Orleans and formed Hurray For The Riff Raff.
Small Town Heroes showcases a respect and true admiration for traditional folk and Americana. The opening track, "Blue Ridge Mountain" is a twangy, upbeat number, with references to classic folklore characters and themes. With her lyrics and intimate vocal delivery, Segarra is able to successfully bring some of these stories to modern listeners, and do it in an accessible style.
Besides folk, the band incorporates melancholic blues influences in songs like "The New SF Bay Blues" and "Levon's Dream," where her vocals become deeper and more somber. The once bright instrumentation slows down to a mournful wail, allowing the musicians to show their versatility.
The most powerful song on the record, and the album's standout, "The Body Electric," brings everything together. In the style of a classic outlaw country murder ballad, it begins with the line "Said you’re gonna shoot me down, put my body in the river," but evolves into a deeply meaningful allegory on violence toward women and the state of the world in general. The theme is truly driven home with the grim and hard-hitting final line, "Tell me what’s a man with a rifle in his hand is gonna do for his daughter when it’s her turn to go."
On Small Town Heroes, Segarra and her band are able to bring together all of their influences to create an eclectic and emotional album. The songs on this record are as beautiful instrumentally as they are vivid and impactful lyrically. All together this album is an exceptional take on traditional American music for the modern age.
For the latest on Hurray For The Riff Raff, including news, music, and upcoming tour dates, head over to their Zumic artist page.