Rina Sawayama – Chosen Family

TRACK REVIEW: Rina’s newest isn’t her most musically adventurous, but it’s an important anthem for LGBTQIA+ culture.

TRACK REVIEW: Rina's newest isn't her most musically adventurous - but it's an important anthem for LGBTQIA+ culture.

For many LGBTQIA+ individuals, the idea of ‘chosen family’ is a sensitive one.  For many of us, blood family is a painful subject, as we have faced rejection, discrimination and abuse from unaccepting family members.  Therefore, our chosen families – those individuals with whom we make connections and lives with – are an important part of the makeup of the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole.

'Chosen Family' single cover. Via Dirty Hit.

Rina Sawayama’s new single (titled “Chosen Family”) is a beautiful tribute to the people who make up her own chosen family – and the idea of chosen families itself.  “We don’t need to be related to relate,” she sings on the chorus.  “We don’t need to look the same, we’ve been going through the same thing.”

Musically, this is probably the least interesting of the four singles Rina has released from her upcoming debut album SAWAYAMA.  But that lack of interest doesn’t mean that it’s bad.  Rina’s voice sounds as good here as it ever has, and the production has a charming early-aughts pop ballad feeling.

The song is produced by pcmusic’s Danny L Harle, who showed a knack for creating gorgeous ballads as the executive producer of Caroline Polachek’s Pang album from last year.  “Chosen Family” isn’t as lush as anything from that album, but it’s a strong showing, nonetheless.

Most concerning here is how this song fits in with the other three singles already released from SAWAYAMA.  STFU” is a shockingly aggressive nü-metal banger, “Comme Des Garçons (Like the Boys)” is a house-inspired pop track, and “XS” sort of combines the two, pairing late-90’s pop production with industrial guitars.  It’s all been very edgy stuff up until now, and it will be interesting to see how it all comes together.  After all, there are nine more tracks on the album that we haven’t heard yet.

Regardless of any stylistic qualms Rina’s fans may have with this song, though, there is no doubt that this track will be an emotional one for many LGBTQIA+ folks, and Rina deserves praise for that, at the very least.

Listen to “Chosen Family” below.  Let me know what you think in the comments!

SAWAYAMA is set to release April 17th, 2020

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