MusicReviews

Private Worship: Reviewing Shura’s ‘Obsession’

Electropop artist Shura recently released ‘Obsession’, a song on the deluxe version of album forevher, which is coming in March. Shura wrote the song during the original forevher album, released in 2019, but explains to NME, “I always wanted [‘Obsession’] to be a duet between two women but it never came to fruition during the recording process.” While touring Europe together, Rosie Lowe and Shura decided to collaborate. With ‘Obsession’ already started, Shura had Lowe take a look at it and, with Lowe’s input, the song became the vision Shura had hoped for.

Shura communicates a religious, devotional type of love in the lyrics of ‘Obsession’. “I’ll be your obsession / I will lay my body at the foot of your bed / I’ll be your obsession, babe / ‘Cause I need you just the same.” Shura isn’t afraid to articulate the way in which love makes us feel both powerful and too vulnerable. She describes the process of surrendering to someone who’s worth it in ‘Obsession’, “You’re not cool just to be cool / And I like that about you / I feel sacred in your arms.” This isn’t any old crush. She’s found God in this woman.

Same-sex attracted women replacing the Church’s devotion to a patriarchal God (and His rules), with a private surrendering between lovers — finding sanctity in love, rather than oppressive institutions —  is a theme in a lot of lesbian and bisexual art. Whether it be episodes of the L Word, films like Novitiate (2017), or other songs, like Ladyhawke’s new single ‘Guilty Love’, Shura is representing the religious undertones commonly found in lesbian art.

Shura’s song ‘religion (u can lay your hands on me)’, a track on the original 2019 forevher album, is more direct in its expression of religious devotion between women. Like Ladyhawke’s ‘Guilty Love’, ‘religion (u can lay your hands on me)’ lyrics involve overthrowing the Church’s rules about same-sex love. It’s an invitation to a lover: become devoted to the laws of the love we share, something frowned upon by the Catholic Church, instead of conforming and living an unhappy life out of fear.

Shura sings “I wanna consecrate your body, turn the water to wine / I know you’re thinking about kissing, too.” Even the act of kissing is a religious sacrament between the lovers. This song isn’t about temptation, it’s about finding the presence of God through worshipping each other. The couple know this connection is of a spiritual nature and don’t need any religious institution to ordain it. How could it be wrong when God takes shape in the relationship?

Lesbian love and partnership becoming a holy platform, a worship replacement for the Church, isn’t just a new theme among lesbians and bisexuals, either. ‘religion (u can lay your hands on me)’, which starts with “It’s human, it’s our religion / No preacher to teach us to love / Two bodies, one vision / No one’s watching over us,” reminds me of Emily Dickinson’s letter to Susan Gilbert: “Come with me this morning to the church within our hearts, where the bells are always ringing, and the preacher whose name is Love – shall intercede for us!”

These women would rather face the ‘wrath of God’, a punishment for their love — suggested by the Church — than stop seeing each other. Shura Continues: “Oh, girl, don’t stop, please / You can lay your hands on me.” The lovers would take their chances at running away to their own private, permanent, devotional congregation than give each other up. They’d rather live — or die — in the concept of Hell that’s used to scare and correct them than succumb to a loveless life. Mood!

Shura’s new single, ‘Obsession’, draws from the same well. The spiritual nature of love, such a force that it can displace us from what we once wholeheartedly believed was right, is in ‘Obsession’ from the beginning. “I remember trying to sleep last night, quiet / Nothing ever happens here / And I was trying to read your mind, silence / Were you trying to read my mind too?” sounds just like praying. Except, in this case, the God(dess) is a living, breathing entity that worships us in return.

‘Obsession’ is about the notion of surrendering. An individual surrendering to a higher power could be felt as disempowering, due to the lack of tangible reciprocation. In the song, however, the women will only be okay with “obsession” if it’s mutual: never a one-sided prayer. The song isn’t an argument for atheism. It doesn’t aim to dispel God of any religion. It testifies that the God-like feeling between lovers — especially those subjected to homophobic persecution — is not inferior simply because it doesn’t abide by the human-made rules of the Church. Institutions like the Church do not have a monopoly on worship or spirituality and, if the Church doesn’t agree with same-sex love, we’ll find God in each other.

AJ Kelly

Contact AJ at [email protected] or view the rest of her work on aj-kelly.tumblr.com

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