Shura has today unveiled brand new track ‘the stage’ – the latest glimpse of forthcoming second album ‘forevher’, which will be released on Secretly Canadian on August 16th. Returning to the actual-stage with a set at this year’s Glastonbury – where Shura, dressed in her pope-inspired outfit, was backed by dancing nuns – she has also added to her extensive run of global dates Here.
Intimate, unorthodox and affecting, ‘the stage’ switches between sensual, Minie Ripperton or Prince-inspired disco and ecstatic electronics in capturing the tension (and possible release) of a potential new love. It’s that do-or-die moment which Shura drew direct experience from, having written ‘the stage’ – she says – “about my first date with my current girlfriend. I had travelled to NYC to go on it, so I was a little bit nervous as this was definitely THE most high stakes date I’d ever been on. I DM’d my friends MUNA who were playing a show the night that I arrived and asked them if they could get us both in, and they loved the concept of a first date at a MUNA gig. I wasn’t sure how the date was going until she took my hand whilst trying to lead me to a spot where I could see them play (i.e. basically nowhere in the venue as I’m too short!). Then I knew it was all going to be OK.”
‘the stage’ is a crucial story-point in Shura’s second album, ‘forevher’. Written primarily about Shura’s relationship with her girlfriend and their long-distance conception, ‘forevher’ traces everything from the initial pull of desire to that first IRL meeting (‘the stage’), before recognising when the connection develops into something scarily meaningful. It’s a classic NYC-to-London love-story, but one told through the totally modern filter of dating apps, unanswered texts, Skype chats…and MUNA gigs.
Like the best second albums, ‘forevher’ is as full of surprises as it is faithful to an artist still laying her innermost hopes and fears on the line. On her 2016 debut, ‘Nothing’s Real’, the half-Russian singer, songwriter and producer became an accidental ambassador for the lonesome and rejected. Its themes of anxiety, unrequited romance and the outsider were articulated in fantastical bedroom-pop, which earned Shura an impassioned global fanbase. Unsurprisingly, if you’d have told her just a few years ago that she’d make a follow-up exploring “all that love is” few would have been as surprised as herself. And whilst how to live – and love – as a queer woman has always been integral to Shura, it’s remarkable to hear the timeless stories of ‘forevher’ twisted into new sonic fabric: this time around, the influence of Joni Mitchell, The Internet, and Carole King formed the basis of a record that (despite its universal theme) still in many ways runs counter to the dominant cultural narratives.
Co-produced alongside Joel Pott – with musical turns from Jona Ma (from Jagwar Ma), Will Miller (Whitney), T-E-E-D and additional vocals from Rosie Lowe, Kerry Leatham, Reva from Nimmo – Shura describes ‘forevher’ as “a soul record, sung by someone who doesn’t have a traditional soul voice. And I quite enjoy the antagonism of that.” A passionate, tactile album about connection in times of distance, that unmistakeable feeling is apparent from just a glance at the album’s artwork, which reworks ‘Rodin’s: The Kiss’ to feature two woman bathed in an all-encompassing blue. “I wanted to create something that people could look at, in the way that you look at The Kiss, and think: I recognise that. Or I want that, or I crave that, or I miss that. I wanted to make something that was specific to my experience of being a queer woman that anyone of any gender or sexuality could look at and think ‘yeah, I understand’ or ‘that’s beautiful.’ Because that’s all love is.”