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Sunday, February 23, 2014

ROUTES & BRANCHES
February 15, 2014
Scott Foley

Last year, Hurray for the Riff Raff caught my attention with an album of covers called My Dearest Darkest Neighbor.  You can tell a lot about a person by the songs they cover.  Alynda Lee Segarra (who is, for all purposes, Hurray) doesn't reach too far into her songbag, opting for tunes originally by Gillian Welch, Townes Van Zandt, Lucinda Williams, etc.  It's her approach to them that makes this album one I've returned to repeatedly, recommending Segarra for a deeper lineage than one might've imagined given the fact her age.  In all honesty, I still haven't heard the outfit's first three records. 

Largely on the strength of a strong internet buzz, Segarra's new CD Small Town Heroes was released on the high profile ATO Records.  Whereas much of Darkest Neighbor featured little more than the artist and her guitar, the new songs offer deeper, full band arrangements.  Songs like "I Know It's Wrong (But That's Alright)" or "Blue Ridge Mountain" remind me of last year's excellent but overlooked Mount Moriah collection.  By far the more revealing selections are the "blues" tracks, which harken back to those spartan acoustic settings.  "Good Time Blues" and "New SF Bay Blues" bring to mind Polly Jean Harvey with an acoustic blues bent.  "St. Roch Blues" stands out as the record's masterpiece, an ode to Segarra's adopted New Orleans  home that slinks from an intimately strummed electric guitar to brief band eruptions and back.  It's a piece that encompasses the promising range of a fascinating artist, one of the best parts of the early year. 

*  Townes Van Zandt, "Waitin' 'Round To Die"  Heartworn Highways  (Hacktone, 06)
*  Slim Cessna's Auto Club, "Smashing Indictment of Character"  Unentitled  (Alt.Tentacles, 11)  C
*  Lewi Longmire, "Still Doing Time"  Deer Lodge - George Jones  (Deer Lodge, 13)
*  Simone Felice, "Running Through My Head"  Strangers  (Dualtone, 14)
*  Laura Cantrell, "Driving Down Your Street"  No Way There From Here  (Thrift Shop, 14)
*  Emmylou Harris, "Waltz Across Texas Tonight"  Wrecking Ball  (Elektra, 95)
*  Farewell Drifters, "Tennessee Girl"  Tomorrow Forever  (Compass, 14)  D
*  Benmont Tench, "Veronica Said"  You Should Be So Lucky  (Concord, 14)  D
*  Dexateens, "Neil Armstrong"  Hardwire Healing  (Skybucket, 06)
*  Cowboy Dave, "Honky Tonk Me"  Driven Man  (Self, 14)  C
*  Pony Boy, "If Only He Were You"  Devil In Me  (Odd Man Out, 14)  D
*  Johnny Cash, "I'm Movin' On"  Out Among the Stars  (Columbia, 14)
*  Carlene Carter, "Little Black Train"  Carter Girl  (Rounder, 14)  D
*  Gourds, "Pick and Roll"  Heavy Ornamentals  (Eleven Thirty, 06)
*  Parker Millsap, "Quite Contrary"  Parker Millsap  (Okrahoma, 14)
*  Halden Wofford & the Hi Beams, "Only Thing I Like"  Rocky Mt Honky Tonk  (Self, 13)  C
*  Marah, "Falling Of the Pine"  Mountain Minstrelsy  (Dalley Farm Songs, 14)
*  Paul Thorn, "Doctor My Eyes"  Looking Into You: Tribute to Jackson Browne  (Music Road, 14)  D
*  Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Ray, "Drifter's Compass"  Lean Into the Wind  (Seven Dead Arson, 14)  D
*  Guy Clark, "Uncertain TX"  Better Days  (DBK Works, 83)
*  RootJack, "Dead Man's Hand"  Oasis Motel  (Self, 14)  D
*  Jamestown Revival, "Revival"  Utah  (INGrooves, 14)
*  Will Kimbrough, "All We Can Do Is Love"  Sideshow Love  (Daphne, 14)
*  Cahalen Morrison & Eli West, "Livin' in America"  I'll Swing My Hammer With Both Hands  (Self, 14)
*  Amelia White, "Daddy Run"  Old Postcard  (White-Wolf, 14)
*  Fred Eaglesmith, "Train Wreck"  Tambourine  (Self, 13)
*  Uncle Tupelo, "Sin City (B-Side)"  No Depression (Legacy Edition)  (Columbia, 14)
*  New Mendicants, "Sarasota"  Into the Lime  (Ashmont, 14)  D
*  Haden Triplets, "My Baby's Gone"  Haden Triplets  (Third Man, 14)

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