Photo by Ebru Yildiz
Shilpa Ray delivers her dark torch songs with a grin on her face. After all, the New York singer named her old band Her Happy Hookers–what else can you do but laugh in the face of oblivion? A quick listen would point you towards kindred souls like Patti Smith or Nick Cave, both of whom have shared the stage with Ray. Her music is punk-adjacent, but with some special touches. Ray grew up in a household that forbade Western music, so the Indian harmonium became her instrument. The wheezing, organ-like tones make her songs sound out-of-time, like something so old it’s completely new again.
Ray’s tornado of a voice is her true charm. With Her Happy Hookers, Ray belted out songs at full octane, but on her new solo album, Last Year’s Savage, she conjures the notes instead. “Burning Bride” is menacing and dreamy, threading the old Hindu practice of bride-burning with her own feminism. “You’ll be lucky when she runs out of desire,” Ray warns us, with a grin. Download the song below.