Hurray for the Riff Raff: The Navigator review – Latin Americana and flamethrower polemics


“I feel that the soul of New York is under attack,” Americana songwriter and Bronx native Alynda Segarra recently said. Her sixth album as Hurray for the Riff Raff pushes back against gentrification and, more broadly, Trumpification; alongside that, Segarra personalises the political by foregrounding her Hispanic roots. If that sounds as if it’s a recipe for unmitigated worthiness, be assured that folk melodies and wild-hearted Latin beats play as big a role as Segarra’s flamethrower polemics – Living in the City and Hungry Ghost even share stylistic soft-rock territory with Sheryl Crow.

A loose narrative follows a Puerto Rican woman’s wanderings through a city: the most striking moments happen when Segarra fully realises her heritage, as she does on Rican Beach, pairing swirling Latin percussion with an anti-Trump broadside (“Now all the politicians … say: ‘We’ll build a wall to keep them out’”), and on the title track, where the stark question “Where will my people go?” is complemented by a disconsolate tango rhythm. There’s a lot to take in, but it’s worth the effort.


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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