Credit Dirty Hit via Pitchfork

Review: Hold The Girl by Rina Sawayama

By Hannah Stewart

A review of Rina Sawayama’s third studio album Hold the Girl.

After months of teasing fans with singles and music videos, Rina Sawayama’s highly anticipated sophomore album was released on 16 September 2022 to critical acclaim. Debuting at number three on the UK Albums Chart, Hold the Girl invites the listener to accompany Rina on her journey of healing, experiencing moments of resentment, resilience, and forgiveness. 

While her debut album, SAWAYAMA, featured a range of genres, the music was grounded in the world of Y2K pop. Hold the Girl breaks free from this, with each track a distinct piece of work. The genres vary immensely, with country ballad, UK dance, rock pop, and grunge as just some of the influences present throughout the album. The vast scope of music styles could result in a disjointed record, but Rina’s powerful and emotive voice, coupled with her ability to create undeniably good hooks, binds this special album together. 

This Hell, which was the album’s first single, mixes Shania Twain with satire, resulting in a country pop song which gives a shout-out to queer icons whilst shutting down homophobic views. The electronic Eurodance number Holy (Til You Let Me Go) also focuses on prejudice. On this track Rina’s resentment and anger is clear, her voice hitting out at the way the Christian girls’ school she attended used religion to tear her down. But it is the title track Hold the Girl which demonstrates how this album has been able to create such a unique and special sound through the combination of different genres and elements. Starting out as a pop song, the addition of techno beats, orchestration, and a key change elevates the track, transforming it into a powerful anthem about embracing who you were when you were younger and learning to love them. It is a compelling message, one which is fitting to be the title of such a personal album. 

With her second album, Rina Sawayama has successfully engineered her own unique style and sound, whilst becoming a more open and emotional artist. She is unabashedly herself, telling her stories in a way that is healing to her, and we are lucky to have been allowed to join her on this journey.


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Vivien Kernan

This review has made me want to listen and buy her album. Thank you!