Hurray for the Riff Raff is arguably the most overtly political act on the folk-rock scene right now, and given everything that’s going on in the world, with respect to people of colour and the LGBTQ+ community in particular, you suspected this album would be a bit of a call to arms. Indeed, it is, and it delivers.
There’s a definite shift in sound, as well as in subject matter here too. On her previous records there was a distinctly rootsy, country, Gillian Welch feel, but The Navigator feels almost like early 90s MTV – Living in the City could have come from a 10,000 Maniacs album. Elsewhere, there’s shades of punk, indie-rock, and disco.
On Rican Beach, Nothing’s Gonna Change That Girl, and Hungry Ghost, lead singer Alynda Segarra directly addresses the issues that are clearly so close to her heart, but it’s the album’s penultimate track, Pa’lante, that hits home the most: 'I just wanna prove my worth on the planet earth and feel something.' It’s an impressively powerful, vulnerable song that cuts to the core of what the whole record is getting at. There’s a rawness in the production that doesn’t feel contrived at all, and instead gets the most out of what the band are bringing to the table.
The question of identity is touched upon throughout the songs here (national, political, gender), but in terms of musical identity, Hurray for the Riff Raff know exactly who they are.
Listen to: Pa'lante, Living In The City