(Northern Spy Records)
Shilpa Ray is an experimental blues-punk & soul artist from Brooklyn, New York, who has earned appraise and comparison to some legendary musicians, such as Patti Smith or Nick Cave. On her second full-length album, Door Girl, Shilpa Ray paints a picture of her perspective and experiences of an actual door girl, which Shilpa had spent time working as for Pianos in lower east-side New York. Not only does Shilpa Ray wear her soul and influences on her sleeve, she finds her own matured lane on Door Girl.
Like all culture and music, there is a historyof influence behind each element, and Shilpa Ray was kind enough to share some of her personal influences with a playlist titled “Music from New York that inspired the sounds of Door Girl”, the perfect insight into how bands of the 70’s and 80’s have influenced this fantastic contemporary album. The angry, manic shouting on “EMT Police and the Fire Department” is impassioned and abrasive, and feels directly inspired by the screeching guitars and pounding drums under the punk shouts of Teenage Jesus & The Jerks. The catchy, off-beat rapping on one of our favorite cuts off Door Girl, “Revelations of a Stamp Monkey”, feel like a page out of Blondie’s book and is just awesome, while Shilpa herself shines with her introspective lyricism and cheeky post-goth character.
The emotions portrayed on Door Girl range from cheerful to dreary, gentle to explosive, and energetic to woeful. What remains consistent among Shilpa Ray and her music is the soul and passion she brings with her voice and lyricism. On the opening track, “New York Minute Prayer”, Shilpa delivers beautifully over dancing pianos. “Morning Terrors Nights of Dread” includes even more powerful singing over a swinging dance track that rollercoasters into a crashing, destructive end.
The mid-1900’s swing vibe returns again on “Rockaway Blues”, another favorite of ours – as well as one of the album’s singles, “Shilpa Ray’s Got A Heart Full of Dirt”, a downer song lifted by jazzy vocals from Shilpa who really gets into the singing and lets out a fun and revitalizing “Woo!” near the end the song. “Add Value Add Time” is an incredibly easy-going track with a heavenly reggae feel to it, brought back down to Earth by Shilpa Ray’s weary lyrics: “Work, work, work / Die, die die”. Love and drear are present again on “After Hours”, as Shilpa finally finds a much more open space to deliver her touching voice.
On the later portion of Door Girl, Shilpa eases from loud and booming tracks into slower, even darker and more bluesy cuts. “Manhattanoid Creepazoids” is indeed a creeping track and “You’re Fucking No One” is a harsh, scornful put down while remaining soulfully rebellious. After an interlude, the closing track “My World Shatters by the BQE” is dark and sad, but see’s Shilpa Ray determined as ever. The interlude, “This is Not a Dream Sequence” adds little but a backdrop texture and a sense of realism and continuity to the overall story and point of view Shilpa provides on Door Girl.
Door Girl is a story of everyday life and survival in New York from the perspective of Shilpa Ray, who, through her music is expressing what freedom of emotions all girls should have. Overall, the album provides an extensive perspective of Shilpa Ray’s experiences as a door girl and life as a female in general. Shilpa Ray’s luxuriously soulful voice proves to be capable of tremendous range and versatility, as Shilpa Ray supplies the soundtrack for both a sad night in and a swinger night out – filled with memorable tunes that will no doubt stay stuck in your head.