Shilpa Narayan performing live at Rockwood Music Hall, photographed by Eddie Pearson for Okayplayer
Rising talent Shilpa Narayan is what you call a total package. Possessed of a voice that ranges from a girly whisper to a throaty lament, emotionally complex writing chops that channel her childhood idol Alanis Morrisette and an arresting and yet extremely approachable beauty, Narayan has the presence and versatility to make them all work together on a surprising spectrum of tracks, including the wordless Rihanna-meets-M.I.A. hook of a dark pop-crunk track (“Renegade”) a jazzy Blu Cantrell-ish r&b torch song (“Baby, Go Home”) or a spare acoustic ballad. Her backstory gives that broad appeal another layer. A native of Alpharetta, Georgia of South Asian extraction, Narayan originally pursued a more conventional American dream, studying Finance and Engineering and landing a coveted job on Wall Street–but in the midst of a crisis both personal and financial, ultimately walked away to pursue her music career, a personal inflection point she details in the song “Crash,” co-written by her steady lyrical collaborator Jordan Garner.
Okayplayer is proud to premiere Narayan’s newest effort “Pinch Me,” the first single off a six-track EP set to be released later this year (in turn our first glimpse at a debut album project tentatively titled Through The Haze). A moody track that sits somewhere between spare ballad and half-time club stomper, “Pinch Me” details the delirious experience of falling in (and out) of love in a dreamlike three-hour meeting under hazy club lights, ending on the eerie lyric “Even if it’s all a dream / Baby, would you stay with me?” A nod to the gothic-edged turn-down r&b of The Weeknd and Banks–who Narayan namechecks as current personal favorites, speaking to Okayplayer over steaming cups of chai in a midtown café on frigid January afternoon–the not-quite-turnt-up vibe of “Pinch Me” also makes an exceptional vehicle for her multiple strengths, the steppers beat driving the song forward while still leaving enough room for her voice and writing to breathe freely. Stream above via Okayplayer world premiere and catch the videos for “Renegade” and “Baby Go Home” below, as well as an acoustic take of “Crash” …and remember the name ‘Shilpa Narayan’.