Hurray For The Riff Raff

Harking from the New Orleans gutter, and the product of 23-year-old singer-songwriter Alynda Lee Segarra, there can be no argument (according to the press release) that this is a solid all-American folk record. Except that it dabbles in country and tells tales in a blues-kindof way.

The instruments used on this album beg for attention to be paid to every one of them. From the honky-tonk piano of opening instrumental track “Meet Me in the Morning” to the recurring accordion, banjo and steel guitar, there are layers to these songs that require multiple replays to truly appreciate their beauty.

Throughout the eponymous album, Segarra’s voice is a soulful, wounded yet optimistic presence. The tales of struggle, lost love and hope are perfectly balanced with the sparse instrumentation and metre that one would expect to hear in the streets and bars of New Orleans.

“Is That You?” is an excellent example of what the band are about. At the top layer is an accordion and banjo, with vocals gently bouncing alongside. There’s a beat that borders on polka and a general tune that’s enlivening despite the uncertain nature of the content.

“Slow Walk” is a personal highlight; a country tune, lyrically not dissimilar to Dylan in places, but with a 21st-century honesty about it. The following tracks of “Daniella”, “Take Me” and “Little Things” are all similarly upbeat, and make such good use of the blues/country instruments that they’re likely to get you whistling along on first listen.

When things slow down, we find “I Know You”, “Junebug Waltz” and the haunting “Too Much of a Good Thing”, with its catchy, yet ethereal, chorus.

It’s clear that there’s a progression in mood through the album, starting with optimism, which then wanes before being endeared as we reach the conclusion. A grower rather than an immediate impact, but worth multiple listens.

Simon Middleyard