Hurray For The Riff Raff
Hurray for the Riff Raff's Alynda Segarra (photo courtesy of Shore Fire Media, PR)
Hurray For The Riff Raff
Singer and songwriter Alynda Segarra, the driving force behind Hurray for the Riff Raff, has used her love and appreciation for American roots music as a vehicle for her songs. But on her new album, The Navigator, Segarra taps into her own personal background to add new flavors, tempos, and rhythms to her songs.
Segarra was born and raised in the Bronx and she cites her own Puerto Rican heritage as a source of inspiration for this cycle of songs. As a teen, she set out on her own across the country, eventually settling in New Orleans. Her experiences during this time were soaked up into her music. On this album, she reflects on who she is and where she’s from and incorporates those discoveries into her music.
On The Navigator, Segarra takes on the persona of Navita Milagros Negrón, who is “the Navigator.” It is through Navita that the stories are told; stories that reflect her heritage, life experiences, and desire to return to her roots. Segarra adds culturally-rich layers to her sound, creating a strong foundation for her stories. The Navigator is a melting pot: Latin music is coupled with gospel and street corner rhythm 'n' blues harmonies. The doo-wop gospel of “Entrance” and the urban rocker “Living In The City” takes us into the city’s streets, alleyways, subways, and rooftops, setting the scene for the song cycle.
“I’ve been a lonely girl, but I’m ready for the world,” Segarra sings in “Hungry Ghost" and her folk roots are in fine form on “Halfway There.” The strong-willed ballad “Nothing’s Gonna Change That Girl” carries into the Cuban-influenced title track, a song where Navita, the Navigator, express her devotion to her heritage and concern for her people. “Rican Beach” cries out against oppression and racial stereotyping, while bemoaning urban renewal and decay. “Fourteen Floors” paints a portrait of life in the projects from the eyes of a young girl. The emotionally authoritative “Pa’lante” (which means forward) is inspired by the Young Lords, a Puerto Rican nationalist group active in New York City.
This all adds up to the most daring and diverse album yet from Hurray for the Riff Raff. Presented as if it’s a theatrical production, The Navigator is not just one person’s saga; it has something to say about the times we find ourselves in as a country, particularly the current political environment. This album gives voice to those who don’t have the freedom to express themselves, encouraging the disenfranchised to come together and be hopeful about the way forward.