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Someone recently said to me, “You need to hear this new singer, Shura, she’s just like BANKS.” Now, I am not one for comparisons, in fact for the most part I steer as far away from them as possible. Why? They tend to do no one any favors and for the most part, homogenization takes over and well, you know the rest of this story. Oh yeah, Shura is anything but “a new singer.” In fact, she has been making music since 2011.
Nevertheless, Shura and BANKS do share something in common (other than their mononymous monikers), they have both recently released incredible albums with Shura’s sophomore LP, Forevher, giving me absolute life over these past few weeks. From the second the minute-long intro “that’s me, just a sweet melody” finishes and the second track “side effects” takes control of your ears, you know that the synth pop and breathy sounds of Shura are so much more than just your average electro pop wannabe fanning more well-trodden love songs. In fact, it is in the song “side effects” that Shura not only sings of what we can expect on the expanse of forevher, but also sets the tone: “What it is, is so good.”
Making a quick revisit to Shura’s debut Nothing’s Real (2016) and I am reminded of the beautiful uncertainty that prevailed throughout. The innocence of discovery seemed to dance through every song, fun and playful, even if that ever-present millennial anxiety showed itself every so often. Whereas on forevher, Shura moves into a more certain area of love, queer love at that. This love shows its beauty for the first time in the album’s lead single “BKLYNLDN,” a love song about distance and the coming together of two lovers, finally. With lines set in simplicity like “I think you are awesome,” it is clear that Shura is in love, plain and simple.
This album is immaculate in its production with Shura again teaming up with Joel Pott (Athlete), who also worked extensively on her debut. The second single, “religion (you can lay your hands on me)” exemplifies this superb production along with a giddiness that love all too often finds us embracing. The exquisite “forever” moves into gentle ambiguity whilst allowing the subtlety of queer love—queer girl love to be precise—to raise its all too often forgotten voice, a voice that until recently hasn’t really had a seat at the table.
I simply can’t fault this album. Full of optimism and romance, Shura has co-written every song on the album and exposed herself in a way the wider community all too often takes for granted; speaking openly and without restraint about love. Her songwriting is raw and honest, her voice breathy yet powerful, and her message although sometimes ambiguous, always remains meaningful to those that truly listen. The fluidity of the album is concise with the exception of “Tommy,” a song about death from a conversation Shura had with a 90 year old man from Texas as she and her girlfriend travelled across America in 2017. As “Tommy” himself speaks on the death of his wife at the beginning of the single, it becomes clear that this song is exactly where it is meant to be: firmly on this album. Death, whether we like it or not, is a part of life and yes, very much a part of love.
If not recognized previously, Shura and her music are now most definitely a part of the music collective and if you haven’t had the chance to listen to her, do yourself a favor and do so. Whilst she is open about her sexuality, her music most definitely transcends any limitations the wider LBTQ community may think exist with songs set in “queer love.” In fact, Shura has ensured that the listener is a part of the conversation, her conversation, no matter who you are.
Forevher may be an album about love, but it is also an album that has inadvertently broken barriers and given yet another voice to a community that all too often has very little voice where love is concerned. And yet, Shura’s inclusive songs somehow manage to resonate with everyone, a feat very few songwriters have been able to achieve.
Notable Tracks: "BKLYNLDN" | “forever” | "religion (you can lay your hands on me)" | “side effects”