Greatness is evident in an artist and with R&B/pop vocalist and acoustic guitarist Shelly Bhushan, it hits you right from the start. She has released her debut album Picking Daisies and with it has made an indelible impression on people and the music industry. From the first listen, you feel like you are hearing a genuine timeless classic. Her vocal melodies display gorgeous sonic summits and penetrating lows as the harmonics cuddle lovingly around her voice.
When she begins singing, she rules the room from that moment forward. Her vocal hooks have an unparallel elegance, exquisitely piercing while keenly accentuating the undulating blues-funk curves of the melodies. Her vocal talons have warm clarity with a pitch that is unprecedented in any other female vocalist and a visceral sensuality that is infinitely rich and smooth. This lady must sing even while she is doing the laundry, it is such a natural state of being for her and so much a part of her self-expression. She has all the makings of a glorious singer-songwriter who will be remembered by generations to come.
Her vocals have an intrinsic flexibility that exceeds the abilities of many top notch vocalists. It is apparent in her debut album that she is not one to copy other singers. Bhushan is her own woman and her songs bring that fact to the forefront. Still, audiences can relate aspects of Bhushan’s tones to music’s elite. There is a touch of Deborah Cox’s bluesy voicing in Shelly’s intonations and Kelly Clarkson’s passion to embrace the beauty of a vocal melody. Shelly Bhushan’s voice hugs the melody with the tenderness of a lover’s caress and the warmth of the earth’s natural spring beds.
Produced by her guitarist James Cruz, Picking Daisies is a beatific piece of work with copious amounts of blues-soul fringes and a bevy of orchestral tremors from the horn and string arrangements. The ardent tones create a base for Bhushan’s vocal lunges to come to life. Tracks like "Perfect Stranger," "Beautiful Me" and "Little Piece" augment the R&B/soul grooves with wavelets of jazz horns and celestial strings perfectly arranged to pillow Bhushan’s drizzling vocals. The scintillating piano rolls on "It’s Over" and "Time To Go Home" gently taper the melodic phrases spotlighting the attraction of Shelly’s vocal glides. Cruz places Shelly’s voice front and center and decorates her with complementing backdrops.
Two tracks come off the beaten path of the album’s blues-soul directive. The acoustic guitar ballad "Birthday Suit," which Shelly Bhushan plays with a songsmith’s finesse, and the Dixieland/southern country-vibed ditty "The Nest," which exudes of so much enthusiasm you’ll feel crestfallen when the band ends the tune. The jubilation is indicative of Shelly’s persona to be upbeat over lamenting a broken heart as she chimes, "Her little nest is falling apart/ You took for granted that I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve/ I accepted you with all your faults/ But you’re not willing to compromise too/ I’m not sure who crossed the line/ But I keep thinking you’ll change your mind." The lyrics exhume a cathartic energy.
Shelly Bhushan writes in the liner notes, "A solo album is never really a solo album." Her humbleness is refreshing as she profusely thanks her band, drummer John Celentano, organ/piano player Ben Hoffstein and bassist/backup vocalist Harry Cordew. Additional players include Rob Moose (violin), Martha Colby (cello), Greg Glassman (trumpet), Ian Young (alto saxophone), Dimitri Moderbacher (tenor/baritone saxophone) and guitarists James Cruz, Mark Turrigiano, and Oscar Bautista.
A native New Yorker by way of Dallas, Texas, Shelly Bhushan recorded Picking Daisies at Irving Place Studios in New York City. The album follows her EP The Shelly Show, which was self-released in 2005. I see Picking Daisies as just the first stage of Shelly Bhushan’s blossoming. She has it in her to do much more than what this album surmises of her abilities. Though some flowers may wilt shortly after their first light, Shelly’s album shows her to have an earthy fortitude and veritable talent to sing beautifully wherever she goes, no matter what she is doing and under any melodic conditions.