Shilpa Ray and her Happy Hookers
‘The Coward Cracked the Dawn’
Three and a half stars
This is the stuff of novelty on sound. Shilpa Ray and her distinctive harmonium with the jagged jangle of the Happy Hookers – the standard drill of guitars and drums – infuse the adrenaline on song. The notes blare out of the harmonium in quick succession rendering an upbeat groove while Ray’s gritty vocals sear through with a almost painful irreverence – “the coward cracked the dawn/he said/I cannot face my killing.” The harmonium sound comes close to that of the Hammond organ prevalent in Sixties-Seventies psychedelic to bring a kind of organic element into it, while Ray unleashes the strain of Joplin’s shuddering growl and PJ Harvey’s fiery gusto in her vocals. Ray’s lyrics are unforgiving as well as she derides and jeers at self-pitying imbeciles – “When your debauchery aint man enough/To win yourself a medal/You’re just the sucker who has been sick and poor/for someone else’s art.” With her brave new sound, the rising quirk-and-sparkle genre of New Weird America seems to have found a new champion in Shilpa Ray.