Singer-songwriter Shilpa Ray brings her signature pitch black humor and intelligent phraseology to the dozen tunes on her 2017 Door Girl. Most of the music bears hints of retro, 1950s, effervescent rock which contrasts with Ray's mordant poetry and her eerie, expressive keyboards with poignancy and to dramatic effect.
The introspective "Morning Terrors Nights of Dread" for instance opens with an up-tempo, deceptively carefree, beat that buoy Ray's plaintive and somber vocals. Over the smooth, airy melody Ray softly wails "Pacing round the ashes on my floor/Sometimes I wish I could fly out of my window/Weighing down me." The piece concludes with her crying in painful rage, as drums thunder behind her, the haunting call and response of the title with her band mates.
Similarly, the Act II opener, "Shilpa Ray's Got a Heart Full of Dirt" pairs a brutally honest self-examination with languid breezy lines and rumbling percussion. Sardonic humor laces Ray's lyrics as she offhandedly enunciates "I'm a walking parody/For the many ways/I've callously/Escaped the hands that could crush me" and then the refrain " Here comes the point of no return/Yeah who in their right mind walks around backwards?"
Ray also addresses social issues with her unique musicianship. Psychedelic sound effects open "Revelations of a Stamp Monkey." The track quickly coalesces around a hypnotic thump as Ray goes from chanting to singing and expressing her frustration in rap tinged words like "Watched a man gettin' choked on TV/Crying helpless saying' "I can't breathe and then "Black Lives Matter/Blue Lives Matter/All I feel is impending disaster/Two cops get shot/Down the street/One Hispanic the other Chinese."
Elsewhere "EMT Police and the Fire Department" starts with a cinematic ambience of dissonant instrumentation. In front of this backdrop, Ray tells a story with eloquence and wit and then she launches into a rage filled, punkish song. She drops fragments of ironic commentary like shards of glass with a passionate howl, "Racist Barbie's wasted, sippin' from straws/Holler holler's 'bout the back-door fees/Ken's slippin' 50's, he's got privilege son/To melt like wax in debauchery."
This engaging album is stylistically the same as the rest of Ray's output. It is, however, more cohesive and accomplished than any of its predecessors. On it Ray maintains her sophisticated impish fluency and tempers her raw emotion with a mature wisdom. This makes Door Girl her best work yet.
New York Minute Prayer; Morning Terrors Nights of Dread; Revelations of a Stamp
Monkey; Add Value Add Time; EMT Police and the Fire Department; After Hours;
Shilpa Ray's Got a Heart Full of Dirt; Manhattanoid Creepazoids; Rockaway Blues;
You're Fucking No One; This is Not a Dream Sequence; My World Shatters by the
Shelpa Ray: vocals, keyboards; Alistair Paxton: guitars, backing vocals; Nicholas John
Stevens: bass, trombone, backing vocals, arp odyssey; Richard Bloody Rich Hutchins:
percussion; Jeff Berner:guitars; Christian Lee Buss: backing vocals; Nikki
D’Agastino:tenor sax; Robert Preston Collum: backing vocals; Ryan Skeleton Boy:
bass; Bone Chi Chi: bass; Julie Hair: samples and noise.
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