Hurray For The Riff Raff

It happens that we get spooked sometimes - we need more lights on in the house to feel safe or perchance we'll never feel safe, as if something could always find us and get to our tender parts and underbellies and make us erupt in fright. Death is the bogeyman with a skeleton key to every room - the memories of the dead borrow those keys when they can overpower the big guy and they return to make matters complicated and on-edge. New Orleans three-piece group Hurray For The Riff Raff finds a way to bring these delicate wanderings of old souls and spirits from the past into the wide open spaces of consciousness, giving them clean sets of clothes, a cup of tea and an available ear for some fat chewing, for getting some things off of their resting minds. Lead singer and banjo player Alynda Lee Segarra sings with a huskier version of Judy Garland's voice, a wavering crescendo twinkling at the corners, which are still caked with somberness and a sober tone. She sings as if there's no rush, as if her stories have been there for a while - they're getting drunk together or they've been drunk for a while now and they're not going anywhere, unsuitable for driving or even stumbling. There seems to be ghosts and friendly devils or demons all over the hallways of Hurray For Riff Raff songs, eyeing everything and everybody to find their subjects, those they're looking for. These aren't random acts of fear or regret, just passionate retellings of the wrongs and the sorrows that don't evaporate upon the expiration of a pulse. They continue to beat and they continue to whisper into ears, breathing softly onto the napes of necks, felt tickling the tiny hairs on the outer edges of an ear lobe. Hurray For The Riff Raff makes an odd combination of darkened folk music that contains full-bodied crooning, fascinating elements of the macabre and the kind of Americana flourishes that show up in music by contemporaries such as Dark Dark Dark, The Handsome Family and North Carolina's The Bowerbirds. They aren't songs of gleefulness, but they can be. They don't rule it out, but there are too many hauntings to be ironed out and dealt with to get to that point quickly. Lee Segarra sings in "Amelia's Song," "You're not made out of stone, you're made out of honey and you can't be consumed by my life," and it's as if the line is being addressed to the invisible sight of someone whose bones are down six feet deep, rattling from the afterlife, but holding tight. These hauntings are enchanting and this band is even more so.