There’s an interesting back story to Alynda Lee Segarra, the 26 year old songwriter behind the rather non-Americana nom de plume. She ditched home at 17, travelled the USA by thumb and jumping trains before settling in New Orleans, focusing on music and discovering her own style with quite breathtaking results.
Her voice is the deal breaker here, though never at the expense of quality, timeless songwriting. She can conjure up real heartache and sweet soul music as she does on the devastating ‘St Roch Blues’, a song dripping in honey melodies and jazzy undertones. Elsewhere she draws on Appalachian folk on the opener ‘Blue Ridge Mountain’, intimate bluesy folk on ‘The New SF Bay Blues’ and shimmering dream ballads in ‘Levon’s Dream’. Her ability to shift stylistically between tracks, without sacrificing the sonic narrative of the album is a real key to why these 45 minutes are such an enjoyable listening experience. Segarra has balanced the record’s changing moods perfectly, it never sinks too deep into melancholia while it also never shies away from the real-life subject matter inherent in so many communities – drugs, violence, shattered relationships.
In the folk/country world it’ll be hard to top this album in 2014, such is the heart, soul and realism that Segarra invests in her songwriting. She’s an immense talent who will gain equal standing with the likes of Gillian Welch and Lucinda Williams if she continues to produce albums that resonate as strongly as Small Town Heroes.
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