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Preview: Hurray for the Riff Raff

Noah Bonaparte Pais on the band's new album


Scan the inside cover of Look Out Mama (Born to Win), the new album by New Orleans country/folk band Hurray for the Riff Raff, and you'll find the expected country/folk voices that play out the record: guitar, piano, organ, harmonica, fiddle, bass and drums. Two you won't find — banjo and accordion — may reveal more about the band's direction on this third ravishing LP. On 2008 debut It Don't Mean I Don't Love You, those distinctive instruments are omnipre-sent, like training wheels for former street busker and first-time recording artist Alynda Lee Segarra. They're two of the first sounds you hear (along with Segarra's come-hither contralto) on 2010's Young Blood Blues, though they eventually cede ground to violins and guitars, following the band's transition from junkyard recyclers to first-order country players. Here, they've been swept out completely, along with another of Segarra's early crutches, the waltz-time rhythm (it's present on only one Look Out Mama song). In their place are tender swings and light-foot shuffles, the easy paces of a metamorphosed band increasingly comfortable in its new skin. Segarra's twanged consonants and bowed vowels on the title track are bested only by her pitch-perfect yodeled finish, and on "Lake of Fire," over the album's most giddyap arrangement, she hurdles over two octaves like a warmup jog. Then there's her "Ode to John and Yoko," which honors rock's first couple with a lovingly psychedelic tribute, its warped backward-guitar bridge leading to a delightful final 90 seconds, voices upon voices singing in a double-timed shimmy, "I don't know why." Sometimes, Segarra seems to have figured out, it's best just to go with it. Tickets $8. — Noah Bonaparte Pais

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