After its February debut
Hurray for the Riff Raff's Alynda Lee Segarra.
, Hurray for the Riff Raff
's Small Town Heroes
has been an album I've turned to again, and again, and has come to define much of 2014 — finding hope in the hopelessness and light in the dark, and finding and raising up important voices and stories before they're lost. From the title track's cast of runaways to the doo-wop prayer for lives lost on "St. Roch Blues," singer-songwriter Alynda Lee Segarra
writes and sings with a quiet anger and urgency, channeling frustration, hurt and hope all at once in smoldering Americana ballads — it's no wonder NPR just called album standout "The Body Electric" the political folk song of the year
(not to mention American Songwriter
also named it song of the year
). Earlier this year, Segarra told Gambit:
"I've read some Internet comments — you should never read the comments — that are like, 'But every generation feels so disillusioned. Every generation feels like this. Everyone complains in every generation.' That's such a silly idea. That's the end of the world when people stop (caring). 'Well, we might as well throw in the towel.' I'd love to be a part of encouraging our generation to not be apathetic. That would be my dream come true."
"The Body Electric" — with its stark arrangement of minimal percussion and a small but stunning string section — reframes the country murder ballad as a question: "Tell me what’s a man with a rifle in his hand gonna do for a world that’s just dying slow?" The song is "an old sad" one, Segarra sings, "you've heard it all before, but Delia's gone and I'm settling the score." In a release for the song's single
, Segarra said, "I felt the waves of a 26-year span of desires to see all women free from violence crash into me. It was anger, a desire for justice and a dream of change."
In the video, which premiered on NPR, bounce artist Katey Red
appears in a scene recreating Botticelli's The Birth of Venus.
Director Joshua Shoemaker told NPR that the video "is a meditation on the acceptance of violence and discrimination against people of color, women and the LGBTQ community."