Rina Sawayama – Hold The Girl – Retro Pop

Released: September 16

Rina Sawayama builds on her burgeoning pop dynasty on ‘Hold The Girl’ – a second album filled with culturally poignant and personally significant pop bangers.

Opening with the fluffy Minor feelingsthe track sets the tone for an album that examines the social landscape of 2022 and its impact on personal and mental state. “All my life I’ve felt out of place / All my life I’ve been saving face / For all these minor feelings,” she sings on the chorus of the two-minute number, which segues into the album’s second track and title track.

Beginning with an allusion to Madonna’s classic like a prayerthe song dates back to 2020 when the singer-songwriter began working on the project and forms a backdrop for the collection, which was written during a time of reflection for Rina.

Since releasing her debut feature ‘SAWAYAMA’ in 2019, the Japanese-British star has been on a whirlwind journey both personally and professionally, but with the pandemic’s enforced downtime, she’s been able to look the other way of the future and delve into the past for an album that draws inspiration from artists such as Kelly Clarkson, The Corrs, Paramore and Sugababes, as well as Taylor Swift’s most recent LP “Folklore.”

Musically inspired by the artists she listened to during her formative years while lyrically addressing the rights-taking of the LGBTQ+ community, debut single this hell names a number of gay icons, including Britney Spears, Whitney Houston and Princess Diana, and discusses the intense press scrutiny they have faced.

Alongside numbers of a cultural nature, other tracks are more personal; To imagine deals with the paranoia of a relationship falling apart as Forgiveness see Rina’Going around in circles again / Reaching dead ends’ as she descends ‘windy road’ to find closure.

The indie influence Frankenstein examines her feelings of being broken, as Rina begs for someone to ‘bring me together, make me better’.

Meanwhile, a highlight of ‘Hold The Girl’, Holybegins at mid-tempo before building a massive chorus that explores Rina’s relationship with faith, as she states: “I was innocent when you said I was evil / I took your stones and built a cathedral / I found peace when I lost my religion / All these years I have wished to be different”.

Do away with the reflective To be alivethe end of the album sees the star discovering a new way of life that allows her to dive headfirst into all the situations life has to offer and live in the moment.

“Hold The Girl” is the joy of an album that, while addressing a range of pressing issues, remains sonically uplifting with an overall sense of nostalgia that draws on simpler times. With so much about her 13 tracks, it’s an initially overwhelming experience, but with each listen, a new layer is revealed and, ultimately, Rina Sawayama’s true essence is uncovered.

‘Hold The Girl’ is available now.

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