Back in 2014, Shura, aka Alessandra Yakunina-Denton, caught our attention with a soft-lensed, pastel-hued video of queer couples kissing. Lush and dreamy, the aesthetics skated over the trip-hop sounds of single ‘Touch’ as whispery female vocals sang verses dripping in a quietly melancholic nostalgia. Even as little as 5 years ago, it was rare to hear a musician singing explicitly – and with passion – about a same-sex relationship, garnering the alt-pop newcomer a small but ever-growing fanbase of LGBT+ womxn, myself included.
Her first album, Nothing’s Real, stayed true to the image she’d cultivated with ‘Touch’ –chilly beats and ’80s-inspired synths pleasantly clashing with introspective verse. Yet with follow-up Forevher she’s moving on from these “crying in the club” vibes to embody a bold romanticism inspired by Rodin’s iconic sculpture The Kiss. Created contingently with the blossoming of a long-distance relationship (I’d make a lesbian in-joke here, but I’m worried I might lose some of my audience) the songs chart initial online flirtation, a jittery first date (‘The Stage’), the tribulations of loving online, all the way to the contemplation of forever (‘Tommy’).
Shura maintains her breathy vocal style but it seems more robust somehow, as if fortified through these candid declarations of queer love, but there are moments of breath-taking vulnerability, like on ‘That’s Me, Just a Sweet Melody’, a delicious sliver of sweetness. Other highlights include ‘Religion (U Can Lay Your Hands on Me)’, a sex-positive jam pinning funk-inflected guitars with Catholic imagery (“Wanna consecrate your body/ Turn the water to wine”) to conflate sexual and religious ecstasy. In it’s frank discussion of simmering sexual desire and the invitation that serves as title and chorus (“You can lay your hands on me”) makes consent sexy.
‘BKLYNLDN’ is a slow-burning ode to transnational love (“Brooklyn to London” to be exact) that captures the fizzing excitement of sexts and the ache of longing, the urgency of needing to be reunited with your lover and the feeling of having a relationship with your phone (“I can’t stop looking at my telephone”), punctuated with painful silences that spring from long-distance dating in the digital age.
Forevher employs a simple premise of inserting queer love into the cis-hetero romantic narratives that have dominated western culture for millennia – and it works.