Long Island City resident Shelly Bhushan has found something truly special in her latest album, “Something Out of Nothing.”
It is no secret that her syrupy smooth and soulful voice ripples through each of her four albums, but it is her songwriting that really flourishes here.
“I used to be all about the singing,” Bhushan, who relocated to Queens from Texas, said. “I never used to care too much about the writing.”
Indeed, it has become a commonality for many of the Top 40 superstars to rely, at least partially, on lyricists to create the skeleton for a song.
What songwriting has done for Bhushan is both exhilarating and terrifying for the singer.
“When I first started singing my own material, it was really hard,” she said. “I was so used to singing other people’s music but I felt that I didn’t have much of a voice. I didn’t know how to lean into it because some of the material was just so personal.”
“Something Out of Nothing” has an eclectic sound. Songs vary from a slow and soulful feel to more poppy with hints of funk and synthesizers.
It is apparent that Bhushan has grown as a person, musician, singer and songwriter over the years and her four albums.
Her life experiences and experience in the music industry no doubt contribute to her seasoned sound and lyrics.
“I’ve been influenced by a lot of different things and I never set out to say I’m going to be an acoustic songwriter,” Bhushan said. “I didn’t try too hard to transform all of the songs into one thing. Production was done in service of the song. Whatever worked best for each song is what we did.”
Her best songs are the ones that are stripped down, including “Feather,” which highlights her lyrics and exquisite voice without all of the excess.
“Unrequited Love Song” is another example of how well Bhushan can hold her own with a simple melody and guitar chords.
The song was originally called “New York” and compares her relationship with the city to a slowly fading relationship in which she struggles to keep up, knowing that in the end, she’ll be replaced by someone “younger and sweet.”
“You can try as hard as you want but the city decides if it is going to keep you here,” Bhushan said. “I started looking at the city as a person and it gave me a new way to express my feelings about a lot of different things.”
It has a melancholy feel and Bhushan does well to balance sweet crooning with big belts, allowing the listener to truly hear and feel what she is saying and feeling.
“Something Out of Nothing” was almost exclusively produced in the Dutch Kills apartment she shares with her husband.
While Bhushan has performed here and there, including at LIC Bar on Vernon Avenue in Long Island City, since her album came out she has decided to take some time off to focus on her personal life and get back into writing. She doesn’t have a set return date but is expecting to begin performing again sometime in the summer.
A music video for the track “Moon” is expected to be released in coming weeks, but right now, Bhushan hopes to reach a larger audience who will enjoy her music for what it is.
“I think if you’re a New Yorker, you’ll find things on the album that feel very ‘New Yorker-ish,’” she said. “But I do think it’s an album that people can relate to and hopefully, the more people listen to it, the more they’ll enjoy it.”