Shilpa Ray “Door Girl”
We’re somewhat ashamed to say that this is our first experience of Shilpa Ray, despite her having produced a number of critically acclaimed releases (not that critical acclaim always equals quality!). Actually, if we’re being totally honest, the thing that initially attracted us to this album was the fact that she comes from NYC and the album artwork copies the New York Dolls’ signature typography!
However, any hopes that this will ‘just’ be a New York Dolls style sleaze rock album are completely dashed right from the start. Whilst that may be initially disappointing, the reality is that this release offers something much better and far more interesting. First song “New York Minute Prayer” is actually a wistful, fifties style ballad that opens with a meditation bell, a significant indication that this album demands your attention and contemplation. It then jerks into a different direction with the more upbeat (despite its title) “Morning Terrors Nights Of Dread’.
Together with songs like “Add Value Add Time” there is a sense of real variety amongst the songs. They bring in elements of rock n roll, power pop, doo-wop and jazz – in fact you name a genre there’s a flavour of it here. Eclectic is a term too often used by music reviewers but it certainly applies here. It even extends to the almost modern rap/electronic style of “Revolutions Of A Stamp Monkey” (sorry we have no idea what that title means!).
The centrepiece of this album is the astounding “EMT Police And The Fire Department”. A song which starts with Patti Smith esque poetical words before descending into a remarkably abrasive punk song. It’s a track which literally screams for attention and has a power that so few artists are capable of creating. The album then swerves in the totally opposite direction again with the exquisite and delicate ballad style of “After Hours”. That’s before we get the totally brilliant “Shilpa Ray’s Got A Heart Full Of Dirt”. If there’s one song that could be a huge cross over hit then it’s certainly that one.
It’s also important to highlight the power of the lyrics in these songs. Their dark and powerful impact is often ‘hidden’ behind a charming tune like on “Manhattanoid Creepazoids” or a ballad like the nicely titled “You’re Fucking No One”. We don’t have the capacity or eloquent words to do them justice so just give the songs a listen!
That’s one of the great things about this album, it just works on so many levels. You get the simplistically catchy fifties sound of “Rockaway Blues” up against the shouty vocal performance on the emotionally charged “BQE”.
It may not necessarily have a ‘Dolls’ sound but the importance of New York is clear and apparent on this album. Not just in the lyrical references but the sheer variety and bohemian style of the music. The last artist who had such an immediate impression on us was Ezra Thurman. Shilpa and these songs are the kind that go beyond the levels of ‘just’ music’. There’s an element of art and importance that transcends the normal entertainment value of songs. This is an inspirational release which will lead to us plundering her back catalogue. It will also definitely be one of our favourite releases of 2017.