ALBUM OF THE MONTH: Hold The Girl by Rina Sawayama (October 2022)


TRACKLIST: Minor Feelings; Hold The Girl; This Hell; Catch Me In The Air; Forgiveness; Holy (‘Til You Let Me Go); Your Age; Imagining; Frankenstein; Hurricanes; Send My Love To John; Phantom; To Be Alive

There’s no mistaking the ambition of Sawayama’s 2nd album and with an Elton John collaboration under her belt she will doubtless hope Hold The Girl builds on the success of her debut.

  • Read on for reasons including how to see Sawayama on tour this autumn

1st album SAWAYAMA won our 2020 Best Album monsta and we said of it: ‘Elton’s ‘strongest album of the year this far’ label reminds of one of his hits: Are You Ready For Love? Because one listen and you’ll fall for SAWAYAMA.’

Much of the rough edges which made that debut so compelling have been buffed off for this follow up and we can’t help but feel Sawayama needs a big hit from it to justify the involvement of writers such as Paul Epworth, a winner of 7 Grammys and an Oscar, and Stuart Price, who has worked with Madonna, Dua Lipa and Pet Shop Boys.

Almost a year ago we saw her live at Electric Brixton, saying: ‘Everything’s in place for album 2 to go stratospheric.’

Lead off single This Hell was a song of the month for us in June and we said: ‘While the song is probably the catchiest we think Sawayama has ever written, it’s the lyrics that show both a playfulness and a proud embrace of a subject matter that is highly pertinent in Pride month but is also going to resonate with so many.’

However, there’s nothing quite so good here although there is a lot to recommend this album which entered the UK charts at an impressive number 3 not least the Lady Gaga-isms of track Frankenstein with its ‘I don’t wanna be a monster anymore’ repeated lyric.

Minor Feelings makes for a beautiful if brief introduction to this set and the Purple Rain-ish guitars towards the end of latter track Phantom show the Prince-like ambition shown here.

Catch Me In The Air is a grown-up nod to the importance of parenting and while we worry that the material here may not quite give Sawayama the cut-through we feel she deserves that chart position is hopefully an indicator that the best is yet to come for her.

Final song To Be Alive sums up the attempt to go stratospheric and it is perhaps telling that Suede’s much spikier but perhaps more authentic Autofiction – a genuine contender for best album of the year so far – charted higher than Hold The Girl in their album chart debuts.

  • Main picture via Facebook courtesy Rina Sawayama Tickets
  • Have you heard any of these songs or seen any of these shows? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow monstagigz on Twitter @NeilDurham, email and check us out on Instagram and Facebook

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