Shilpa Ray rocks on the harmonium like other players do on guitar. But she and her Brooklyn-based band, the Happy Hookers (no intentional reference to Xaviera Hollander), are currently making the kind of rock music that seems unencumbered by any direct connection to Americana, despite the presence of a harmonium in the mix. Instead, the act has a raw, bluesy vibe, like some kind of garage-rock band that has tightened up its sound. Ray's vocals have been compared to Ella Fitzgerald's, but really, as she points out, her voice is "more like horny Frank Sinatra." In either case, the group performs its upbeat, layered pop-rock songs with a freewheeling conviction. Like any outfit worth your time, Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers aren't trying to follow a trend, but they just might be setting one.
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