Published Feb 11, 2014Folk music has always been a music of common people; "folks," if you will. Small Town Heroes, the first high-profile release from Hurray for the Riff Raff, the performing moniker of 26-year-old Alynda Lee Segarra, keeps close to the traditions, musically and lyrically, laid out by her folk forebears. Segarra's astonishingly self-assured songs are brimming with realistic characters locked into struggle with many of life's major pitfalls: love, addiction, loss and death.
Built on effectively simple chords and picking patterns, the songs on the record are pleasantly under-produced but still clean and shiny. On a low-key affair such as this, tracks like "No One Else" and "End of the Line" pick up the pace and keep things interesting, but the real highlights here are the quietest songs, which allow for Segarra's formidable voice to dominate the proceedings.
"Good Time Blues (An Outlaw's Lament)" and the title track, "Small Town Heroes," are achingly heartfelt and full of pain that belies the singer's young age. Small Town Heroes succeeds in balancing a new, unique voice and the long-worn-tread of a genre with a rich background. (ATO)