The Heavy and Heady Soul of Hurray for the Riff Raff

Hurray for the Riff Raff began nearly a decade ago when mainwoman Alynda Lee Segarra left the Bronx to travel the country in the most beautifully transgressive ways, such as hitchhiking and jumping freight trains.  She eventually settled in New Orleans, where she’s been writing and recording since, backed with a revolving lineup of like-minded musicians, who have produced a handful of albums that have gained critical acclaim from NPRMojo, and No Depression.  Her sound embodies Americana, via the most soulfully disenfranchised kind of heart.  At her heaviest, Alynda Lee Segarra is producing ten-ton-trucks of ballads that lend themselves to the tears of the newly-enlightened.  In her slightly lighter moments, her sounds inspire imagery of a highly satisfying pre-modernist brand of organic partying (likely accompanied by the grainiest alcohol).  Last month Hurray for the Riff Raff released quite a lovely and heady collection of (mostly) covers (My Dearest Darkest Neighbor).  The band recently signed to ATO Records and have a new album of original material set to drop early next year, and they’re quite excited to be a part of the ATO team and the roster.

In a recent chat with Alynda Lee Segarra, she tells me they’re quite fans of and close with labelmates the Alabama Shakes and says of the label, “They really let you be in control of your music, which is so important.”  When it came to recording their latest album, she tells me, “We really took our time and were more patient with everything.”  I go on to ask what can be expected of the upcoming release, to which she replies, “Our last album was a lot of different songs all together, of different genres but, for this one, we kind of condensed them into what we do best.  There are a lot of stripped down, acoustic songs, but there are also some heartbreakers.”  She also clarified that, for this release, she was, “Trying to write songs that have to do with a political statement, in the murder ballad tradition,” citing a large influence to be the woman who was gang raped on a bus in India earlier this year and just this notion of violence against women in general.  She explains that her latest work is all about “Merging the old tradition of songwriting with the current things we need to fix.”  However, Hurray for the Riff Raff are not all humanities headiness (But they do do that quite well.).  They’re currently on tour and will be making an August 9th stop at Johnny Brenda’s.  When I ask Alynda what we can expect of the live experience, she tells me, “We’re really trying to get people dancing… I don’t know if they dance in Philly.”