The world is on a cyclical evolution that has brought us back to the female lead wave. One does not need to search far to hear a woman belting out vocals in accompaniment to a roving band of talented musicians. Which ever way you look you’re handed rock, soul, or country, but deep down it feels like we’ve been here, we’ve done this. It will all fade again.

Throw out the beautiful Barbie-like vocals, strap some dynamite to a harmonium, and deliver an unabashed opinion of the world today; the result: Shilpa Ray.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to listen to Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers, I’d like to introduce you to the one that broke the mold. Throwing open the door to the world stage, A Fish Hook An Open Eye was released in 2009 with no restraint. There is no dancing around with this group of New Yorkers who wear their heart on their sleeve. Passionately belting out lyrics “Fell in love, forgot about my mother, my father…” to convey just how engulfed one can become with a new relationship, is just the tip of the iceberg for this album. Reaching deep down inside and pulling out emotions that you find yourself thinking only you have experienced makes for an easy association.

I was completely in the dark when I picked up this album. I had no idea what or who Shilpa Ray was, let alone her happy hookers. The image I had in my mind was the opposite of what I would soon discover; in fact it was that of a man leading a group of smooth female background vocalists. Much to the contrary and to my elated surprise, I was met with an in-your-face, unique, talented mix that left me longing for more than the eight tracks I received. Serenading your ears with “Beating St. Louis,” “I Only Have Eyes for You,” and “What the F**k Was I Thinking,” you’re met with a contradiction to what we’ve been conditioned to expect making for a very entertaining experience; where most would reach higher, Ray drops down to a sultry deliverance bringing forth much more substance than initially anticipated.

This ever revolving and growing musical world has picked up a band this time around that has great potential to sustain and survive even after the cycle has moved on.  Knowing their limits keeps SR&HHH in check and has allowed them craft a well compiled breakout album. While hardly speaking to the flowery love stories of mainstream music mixed with an unconventional, but very true voice, Shilpa Ray helms this ship that is sure to spark an interest with the masses that cannot find a home in generic love songs.