Hurray for the Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes [album review]

by Woody on February 10, 2014


I’ve turned a few people on to Justin Townes Earle over the years. Justin is one of my favorite songwriter and performers, not to mention a tried and true Cubbies fan. Anyway, one of my buddies who’d I turned on to JTE stopped over one day while I was playing Small Town Heroes. We were making small talk when we started talking about the music that was playing when he dropped his bit of knowledge on me – Sounds like JTE if he was a she.

I kind of dismissed it at that time but upon reflection there is a dedication and knowledge of music from yesteryear that connects both. It is easy to see with Justin, as he was born into and grew up around it. But for Alynda Lee Sagarra, the dots aren’t as easy to connect. Sagarra is a 26 y/o native of the Bronx of Puerto Rican descent who now calls New Orleans home. Sagarra cut her teeth listening to doo-wop and Motown from the older folks in her neighborhood. That segued into frequent trips to the Lower East Side {JTE lived there and wrote a song about it) where she was introduced to riot grrrl. From there she hit the open road and after a few stops, found herself in The Big Easy.

From there, Sagarra busked and eventually settled into writing her own music. Another similarity to JTE is her uncanny ability to write timeless music. Her songs are vivid portraits whether it be singing about being homesick for her adopted home on Crash On The Highway or New Orleans’ more violent side in St. Roch’s Blues – inspired by a string of murders in 2011.

Segarra and Hurray for the Riff Raff are well on their way to becoming a force in the Americana and folk arenas. I have been infatuated with this album for well over a month. I’m not alone as she’s been written up by The Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice and NPR.

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