Hurray For The Riff Raff: Bound For Glory


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During that first version of the band, Segarra was insecure as a musician. She found it hard to imagine being a focal point for a band, or that people would want to see her band play her songs, or that she had something to say. As her musical world grew, she faced choices she hadn’t known existed. Just as jumping trains forced her to grow up, McClements’ exit made Segarra get serious about taking responsibility for her music. For the first time, she started to think about what she wanted it to sound like.

“That was a really important time for me,” she says. There are songs from the time that now seem distant to her, but she still performs “Slow Walk” and “Junebug Waltz” – the songs that first pointed the direction she would go. “I love playing those songs more than before because they finally sound the way they should have sounded.”

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Up to that point, Segarra’s default mode as a writer was first person and confessional, often writing relationship songs that were emotionally exhausting to sing. Not only did she find it hard to relive some of the songs’ emotions night after night, but ambivalent or uninterested audience responses felt like cold judgments on her life and emotions. “They just weren’t fun,” she says of her songs. She remembered how much fun she had singing covers with The Dead Man’s Street Orchestra, and she admired the fun Doores had singing his own songs onstage. She wanted some of that without losing what she had. “I believe in being vulnerable with your audience because it helps them be vulnerable with you,” Segarra says. “But you have to take care of yourself, especially if you’re not a star and you’re playing a dive bar with people wondering, ‘Who’s this girl and why is she crying?’”

Doores joined the band, which also included drummer and fiddle player Yosi Perlstein, a friend from Nashville Segarra met while bumming. He was in the band with McClements, and knew Segarra was searching for something. She listened more broadly, considering what she could adopt from each artist or genre, and how it could help break her out of the musical mode she felt stuck in. The album My Dearest, Darkest Neighbor was a part of that process, as she covered songs by John Lennon, Joni Mitchell, Lucinda Williams, George Harrison, Hank Williams and more, trying them on to see how they worked and what they had to tell her. She released it as a premium for contributors to the Kickstarter campaign she started to fund the album that became Look Out Mama, then Mod Mobilian/This is American Music released the album commercially in 2013.

Constant touring helped Segarra grow more certain of her music and abilities. She became powerful and nuanced as a singer, a better guitarist, and she was getting better at being a band leader. “She got a lot more confident branching out and writing whatever type of song she felt like writing,” Doores says. “And as the band got really tight, when she’d write a song it felt pretty natural to come up with a nice arrangement for it, and some harmonies came together. That allowed her to come up with a different sound for the band.” She’d set herself the challenge of writing in different modes to get away from confessional songs. “I was trying to break out of this bubble I was in of minor key waltzes, which is a very New Orleans street musician sound,” she says. “I tried to write a story outside of me [‘Ode To John And Yoko’] and I learned to write a country song. It felt really nice to try to grow, which is what the whole point of [Look Out Mama] was.” She’d realized that the musicality of a song could make hard truths in the words easier for everybody to bear and wrote with that in mind. Her songs had previously been written so she could play them on her own if necessary, but those written during this time left space for the other instruments to add their colors.


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