British singer, songwriter and producer, Alexandra Lilah Denton, known to general public as Shura, released her long-awaited debut album Nothing’s Real on July 8, 2016 via Polydor records, two years after the release of her critically acclaimed debut single “Touch”.
The promising young artist hasn’t broken her promise of impressing new listeners with her relatable and effortless dance and pop sounds. She has intermittently dropped singles in the two years since “Touch”, each time adding another dimension to her signature sounds – funk, disco and more recently pop. The dominant sound on the new album justifies her statement to The Guardian in a recent interview, “You don’t have to be an ex Disney Star to make pop music”.
Each and every track on Nothing’s Real is a time capsule taking us back to 80s pop, 70s Disco, 90’S R&B/Dance and Pop-Rock, drawing unmistakable influences from the likes of Madonna, Paula Abdul, Donna Summer, Janet Jackson and Cheryl Lynn. Arguably electrifying the sounds of pop, the album is enough for introverts’ wondering mind to journey on, and the extroverts to jump, shout and swing their hair to.
The softness and resonance of her gentle voice, though not to be put in a position to be compared with the likes of Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston, means that Shura will surely keep your headphones in and fingers away from the skip button, all the way through to the thirteenth and final track of her Nothing’s Real album.
Each song on the record undeniably leaves a unique lasting taste, to each its own sonic flavour; the record is perfectly stringed together by samples from Shura’s childhood. The samples include herself speaking about her twin brother – who has also featured in two music videos directed by his sister – as a kid. It also includes memories of Shura’s Russian mother scolding her for “smoking like hell”.
The record successfully takes the listener on a voyage through Shura’s collection of letters, diary entries, thought patterns and emotions as a young girl, making it very easy for us to reflect on our own pursuits of love. The genuineness in this album stems from the up close and personal tour we have into the emotional early life of Shura. It’s a catchy statement fully loaded with potential, making it the sort of record you can vouch for and listen back to years from now and say “still such a good album!”
The album narrates Shura’s experience with love. On the addictive and electrifying tune that is “What’s It Gonna Be?“, she’s insinuates going further with her love interest but of course on a subsequent track “2Shy“, she admits to her timidity to take such a leap – oh too familiar a phenomenon. This familiarity furthermore solidifies her genuineness throughout the album, the sort of warmth one would welcome into their living room, bedroom, car on a night out, and lest I forget – perfect for the tube!
Personally, “What’s It Gonna Be?” may just be the pop song of the moment for me, with its electric drum beat, bedroom slumber party rhythm, and lyrics that speak the words of every young girls heart in puppy love. Considering her past releases, she has indubitably stretched her territory sound wise without forsaking her roots, influences and obviously what her old fans are used to.
To pin point flaws in the lyrical quality or sonic bearing would almost be like criticizing Shura’s own person and story, but I will say this: I cannot vouch for Shura being revolutionary in genre birth or fusion, as these sounds are familiar, nothing spanking new, but they are refreshingly familiar. Shura has brought back the sounds cherished in the past and made them her own, making us comfortable in her own world of narratives and melodies; it suits her.
Shura’s Nothing’s Real is out now via Polydor Records, purchase it on iTunes here.
Words by Davina Oriakhi
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