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After The Flood: Hurray for the Riff Raff in New Orleans

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Anyone who knows me knows I love minimalism in music, instrument(s) and voice(s), but there have been few instances of this done so well as Hurray for the Riff Raff does on its albums.  It sounds like someone has reset the needle several times to get the chords just right, while listening to the Beatles in their solo years—wonderful stuff—and come out the other side with a signature sound.  Alynda Lee Segarra has found her home in New Orleans with Yosi Pearlstein, Casey McAllister, Sam Doores, Dan Cutler, and David Jamison. This is Hurray for the Riff Raff.

A Good Neighbor

One of my favourite albums, period, is My Dearest Darkest Neighbor, originally a reward for contributing to their Kickstarter campaign for Look Out Mama. Now it is broadly available and still one of the most authentic albums I know. Gillian Welch’s “Morphine” fools you at first and —as with the original—then gives you one of the best revelations of addiction in any song, even when compared to Lennon’s “Cold Turkey.”

Alynda at Heart

Speaking of Lennon, what Lennon tune would you choose to cover if you could cover any of his post-Beatle stuff? “Jealous Guy”—what a choice!  It’s perhaps Lennon’s most personal song to McCartney, or anyone, ever, full of feeling, and clearly a love song.  That’s the thing about Alynda, she chooses and writes tunes about the heart, including “Just a Heart.” This is emotional stuff.

Hurray for the Riff Raff have a few albums to their name, all emotional and all of their covers are, thankfully, rendered in the original gender. From “My Sweet Lord,” with the background singing “Do-lang-do-lang-do-lang” from “He’s So Fine,” to “Western Cowboy,” she sings the songs as she finds them, but makes them her own with that inimitable sound. Every bit of it is Hurray for the Riff Raff, sounding as if it coming off at least vinyl—if not wax. She and the crew could play their songs anywhere with almost any instruments they choose. She can cover a tune better than the writer sometimes, and that’s not bad for someone who covers Gillian Welch, John Lennon, and George Harrison.



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