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Hurray For the Riff Raff – Look Out Mama (Loose Music)

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As a teenager growing up in the concrete sprawl of the Bronx, Alynda Lee Segarra felt suffocated. She longed for the imposing tenement buildings and grainy concrete skylines to give way for a wide, open landscape so at 17 years old she upped and left home.
Hopping trains all over the heartlands of America she fulfilled the nomadic dream that had taken up residency in her thoughts. The small towns and visions of Americana that Segarra had read about in books and lived vicariously through the solace of her record collection became her life as she found her spiritual home in New Orleans. After months spent singing jazz and Traditional Creole music on the sidewalks of the city she assembled a revolving cast of local musicians to bring the songs she wrote in the months spent on journeys across the land to life.
Graduating from small clubs Hurray For the Riff Raff made 2011’s self-titled debut. Filled with beautiful songs about loss, unrequited love and the romanticism of those small towns that Segarra travelled through on the way to New Orleans, it was at times as stark as the black and white photo of Alynda Lee Segarra that adorned the albums cover.
In comparison ‘Look out Mama’ is a warmer prospect for Hurray for the Riff Raff. Maybe the addition of a full band as opposed to the ever changing cast of musicians that appeared on that debut has rounded out their sound adding cohesion and depth, or maybe Alynda Lee Segarra has found happiness in both her surroundings and soul.
Album opener ‘Little Black Star’ turns American Folk Pioneer John Jacob Niles’s Appalachian ballad into a gorgeous country number, Segarra’s swooning voice wrapping itself around fiddle, handclaps and male doo-wop vocals. The incorporation of Louisiana soul that runs through this album gives ‘Look Out Mama’ its warmth, the album’s title tracks conjures up images of walking barefoot on the grass in the sultry heat of a New Orleans summer. Alynda Lee Segarra’s yodelling mid-song a nod to the musical influence of the rural Deep South that she passed through whilst riding boxcars in and out of the faceless backwater towns of the USA.
The theme of travelling is a constant touchstone throughout ‘Look out Mama’. ‘Out on the Road’ and ‘Ramblin’ Gal’ are autobiographical journeys of Segarra’s years after she left the Bronx and found a family in the community of hobos, punks and other young drifters who shared these journeys with her in train carriages and around campfires. The grown up, wiser Segarra is found on the aforementioned title track where she sings “Look out daddy, I’m gonna roam” to a father who probably already knew, a half apology half reassurance to her parents that she is finally happy.

Recorded in Nashville with producer Andrija Tokic (who handled production duties on Alabama Shakes critically acclaimed ‘Boys & Girls’) who has helped Hurray For the Riff Raff expand their vision of country and folk and also pay tribute to the history of American music within Segarra’s songwriting. From the surf rock of ‘Lake Of Fire’ to the slow burning Southern gothic of ‘Riley’ Alynda Lee Segarra is able to lay her enchanting Vocals over a myriad of Genres. Her voice, a mix of Loretta Lynn resonance combined with the confessional bruise of Lucinda Williams. At times defiant with confidence and yet fragile with vulnerability, Segarra’s vocals captivate from the first verse she sings and decides to let go somewhere long after the last song has ended.
Ending on the sparse ‘Something’s Wrong’ Segarra is recorded sitting on her porch with just a guitar and the sound of a rainstorm cascading over the roofs and swamps of New Orleans, it’s a perfect end for an album that doesn’t demand to be heard with any hype or grand announcements. ‘Look out Mama’ is ten engaging songs and a singer whose passion to explore has made for one of the most perfect albums of the year.

[Rating:5]

http://soundcloud.com/loose-music/02-look-out-mama

hurrayfortheriffraff.com/

 

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