Imagine a Latin American, gypsy troubadour, Bowie aficionado with a chip on her shoulder and a score to settle with The Donald. Sound scary? Introducing Alynda Lee Segarra, leading lady with Hurray for the Riff Raff. What’s more, she and her band are on their w ay over here for some dates in support of their new opus, The Navigator. On first listen you could be forgiven for downright bemusement. Here’s a girl from the Bronx, based out of New Orleans and shot through with Puerto Rican activistic feminist ideals. She’s singing through the voice of a Ziggy-style conceptual alter-ego with the soul of a Patti Smith/Carlos Santana lovechild. Yeah, there’s a lot of forces at work here but stick around because it’s a ride worth taking.
The first thing to clarify is that despite the Trump reference, The Navigator was written before the election. However, like so many Americana releases over the last six months (just glance through the AUK CD reviews) it’s heavily politicised. Let’s face it, in the States politics IS the news and musicians are among the most relentless commentators. The Navigator is an autobiographical concept, the protagonist a street kid called Navita telling the story of the gentrification of her home and the search for identity that follows. The timing certainly feels relevant considering the way the Trump administration has been putting the squeeze on the Hispanic community.
The sound, along with the line up is all new, from the opening narrative of the doo-wop troupe that invites our hero on her soul-searching journey to the frantic Latino rhythm percussionists that sound the climax, this is a different animal altogether than we’re used to from Segarra since the straightforward Americana of 2014’s Small Town Heroes. There’s something Neil Young about the new Segarra, a no frills don’t give a damn, here I am, stick it to the man unassuming raw edge which appeals to the punk in all of us.
There is originality and attitude everywhere you turn in The Navigator. There are sub plots of burning dystopian wastelands and super heroinnes, there are stand out tracks such as the Bowie influenced Life To Save and the colossal Pa’lante, a simple but impassioned push for equality. Segarra doesn’t mince her words when she urges her compañero de armas to Pa’lante – loosely translated as go for it! The pent up energy contained within The Navigator is set to be unleashed in an intimate venue near you soon. By all accounts it’s a hell of a gig.
Inner city pressure for an Americana feminista with nowhere to go.
There’s a review of their show at Celtic Connections in January here. https://americana-uk.com/hurray-for-the-riff-raff-celtic-connections-with-roseanne-reid-drygate-glasgow-friday-20th-january