One to watch: Rachel Chinouriri

Authenticity is the key battleground for a solo artist in a social media world. You must be your true self at all times – or pretend to be. It’s an invasive expectation, a 24-hour tension between pop’s glossy performativity and life’s messy realities. But perhaps it can work in favour of acts such as pop newcomer Rachel Chinouriri. The 23-year-old has gathered a substantial following with songs that feel more real than those of most of her peers, replete with everyday horrors of doubt, betrayal and failure. If you’ve ever had a secret crush, obsessed or felt utter despair over someone, Chinouriri’s direct way of discussing love and loss will resonate with you. And if you’re indifferent to lyrics, the Coldplay-loving Londoner is as handy as her heroes with a memorable melody.

Chinouriri’s inspirations are “indie, early 00s pop and African a cappella”, which combine beautifully on All I Ever Asked, a joyous highlight of her recently released third EP Better Off Without. As a teenager, Chinouriri chose musical theatre at the Brit School over studying criminal psychology, yet she has kept a forensic eye for investigating heartbreaking events. “I literally cannot write when I’m happy,” she has said. She doesn’t just write about relationships though: The River Bend interrogates black stereotypes with such acuity that Michaela Coel used it on the soundtrack for I May Destroy You. Hopefully Chinouriri finds enough happiness in being unhappy to write a great debut album.

Rachel Chinouriri’s EP Better Off Without is out now on Parlophone. Her UK tour starts on 3 June in Glasgow

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