'Livin' Large' EP, No Joke Records
It was about this time last year that I first encountered the music of Shelly Ravid, and featured her self-released ‘Let Them Know’ EP on my blog. Shelly came across as a very motivated artist, who had strong views on how she should be represented in the post. It was very refreshing to work with her on that small interview, as her input helped to push me away from some of my standard comparisons that I was using when talking about female artists. It’s sometimes easy to fall into lazy habits when writing! Shelly’s ‘Livin’ Large’ EP (check out this Spotify link, an ideal soundtrack for this piece!) has just been released and it now seems an opportune time to catch up with Shelly and see how things have been going.
“No Joke found me on YouTube, it’s one of those fairy tales you don't think happens anymore. Main guy Ron was searching for reggae covers of Rihanna's 'Love on the Brain' and stumbled across my version.”
That was a stroke of luck and nice to see that social media has a positive side, it’s not all dancing cats and Donald Trump spouting garbage. With the exciting prospect of an album incoming, I asked next if she could give me any hints about what the album has to offer and who she was collaborating with. Shelly’s answer was cagey and the mention of a reggae legend left me with even more anticipation!
“There are a few heavy names on this which I'm not allowed to disclose just yet, but one producer that I'm currently working with has worked with Capleton. I am also writing for an old school reggae legend who hopefully will make a return to the reggae scene in 2018.”
So with Livin’ Large you get five tracks which cover heavy subjects like politics, the quest for success and passionate love affairs. I am glad that Shelly hasn’t compromised with her words, it is heartening to get reggae with powerful messages rather than ‘la la la, the sun, sea and the sand….’. In order to see if Shelly still had the fire, I asked her whether it was still important to be open and forthright with her lyrics?
“I have always been a lyrics driven artist. When I listen to music myself the lyrics have to tell me a story or catch my attention in some way. Even if the music is incredible, I lose interest if the lyrics are not inviting me on a journey. I simply write about what I experience in life, we live in such political turmoil and new wave of awareness that it’s impossible to not be affected.”
She continued, “I carry a lot of frustrations and my way of dealing with it is by writing about it in a song, that way I've given 'my statement' and can move on. Reggae to me is at its core, storytelling. Listening to old roots is like reading a history book, so I am of course inspired by the legends of reggae and how they write their lyrics.”
So thinking of this 'Post Weinstein' world, I asked Shelly whether now is the time for women to take more of an even footing, and feel freer to highlight the more unsavoury parts of modern life?
“I think we are only at the very beginning of these discoveries. More and more famous and much loved artists, producers and politicians will be publicly named and shamed, as it should be. It will take a long time before women feel completely secure reporting their abusers and not lose their careers as a result of it. But there is definitely a change coming, slowly but steadily the women who have been working to empower other women and change politics have had immense effect these recent years. Internet gave an important platform for women of all walks to raise awareness. It's time the world recognise women as a force to be reckoned with politically and economically, anyone objecting to that is only lying to themselves.”
Women in Reggae
I think there are lessons for all of us there, particularly for those in the reggae industry. Even if we think we are good examples of equality, perhaps we men just need to think a little more deeply about how we treat women. It’s the subtle discrimination that needs to change and final word goes to Shelly on how women are treated in the music world.
“The music industry has to take its own responsibility as well, if you run a festival for example, take a look at your line up and who you put on the main stage. If you are a label, are your female acts portrayed in the same professional and serious matter as your male artists? If you write music reviews, are you mentioning things such as age and looks when writing about female artists? If so, why? We all need to be aware of the language we use and how gender norms are reinforced when we do.”
Love Like Fire
As you can see Shelly has lost none of her sound viewpoints and this is reflected in Livin’ Large. The tracks have quite a commercial sound to them, so perhaps 2018 will take Shelly onto a bigger stage? She certainly has the qualities to make it big. My favourite track off the EP is ‘Love Like Fire’, a big hit in the making. It's modern reggae for the Spotify generation, with a perfect mix of catchy chorus and nice tune, whilst still retaining a core of reggae authenticity.
The EP is available now on all online major music outlets such as cdbaby, Spotify, and iTunes. There will also be limited copies on vinyl, sign up to Shelly’s newsletter by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and she will let you know when the vinyl will be available. You can also find Shelly on Facebook, Instagram, Soundcloud and Twitter.
I hope you like this Shelly update, I will bring you more information when the album is on the horizon and maybe even catch up this time next year for a 2018 review. But in the meantime please share this on social media, it will be much appreciated.
Bless, Paper Lion