What A Devastating Turn Of Events: Rachel Chinouriri’s Dreamy, Nostalgic Debut

London’s singer-songwriter Rachel Chinouriri has released her dreamy and nostalgic debut album, What A Devastating Turn Of Events. The full-length debut comes after years of grafting, starting with Chinouriri using a cheap microphone to upload tracks to SoundCloud and releasing her first single back in 2018. While she’s got a few EPs and a mini-album under her belt, Chinouriri has always dreamed of having her own record, and with hers, she’s created a warning – for anyone who related to her often direct lyricism – to set boundaries and appreciate the time it takes to heal. It’s been a long time coming, but the dream has finally been released much to the delight of fans and probable chagrin to Chinouriri’s exes.

On What A Devastating Turn Of Events, Rachel is unafraid to break racial stereotypes and be unapologetically herself with the songs she’s crafted. Growing annoyed at often being incorrectly described as being part of traditionally Black genres like R&B or Soul – even once being called the ‘hip-hop Lily Allen’ – before anyone had even listened to her. All she asks is for listeners to come to the album with open ears and open hearts to find out what she has to say without making any assumptions. Drawing inspirations such as Daughter, Lily Allen, early Coldplay, and more; What A Devastating Turn of Events is a thoughtfully compiled body of work that lets us get to know Rachel Chinouriri a little bit deeper as she did herself in the process of making the record.

What A Devastating Turn Of Events opens with the dreamy track ‘Garden of Eden’, one of the last songs made for the record, with its birdsong and optimism Chinouriri attempts to encapsulate the peaceful feeling she had growing up in an English village. It sets the tone for the songs to come, as she flows through the sense of home being a happy and beautiful place that shaped who she became as an adult, in spite/because of the sad memories the place holds. Ultimately, it’s about growing up and getting rid of that fear that haunts our twenties, of caring too much about what everyone else is doing and learning to let go of it.

Leaving the garden behind, the next much grungier track ‘The Hills’ is Chinouriri’s take on what it means to be her, a proud Black British woman with Zimbabwean parents. The song was borne out of a writing trip to LA, throughout which she had overwhelming homesickness and a sense that she didn’t suit the hills of Hollywood, finally, it came together in the studio rocking out with LA-based producer/multi-instrumentalist Aaron Shadrow. Rachel uses this song to say she feels most herself at home in the hills of England, a motif which comes throughout the album’s visual media as she wants to reclaim the St George’s flag as something she can be proud of and not question what kind of neighbour might hang it up.


From here, the album flows into the pop-infused song that almost didn’t get finished, ‘Never Need Me’. This song explores the experience of a love that is toxic paired with that moment of realisation that you deserve better, but with the lasting hope that the other person will be better off for you leaving them. Sometimes you might even have a friend telling (or shouting at you) you to get that person out of your life because the relationship isn’t doing either of you any good. Chinouriri encapsulates this in the music video which features Florence Pugh as the fictional best friend who’s trying to get you to cut the cord. It’s a very difficult lesson to learn, and it was a song that was equally challenging to finish for Chinouriri. Encouraged by one of her friends to finish the song, and working with the album’s producer she was able to transform the song from one she didn’t even want to send to the label to one that is currently in second place for her top songs on Spotify. There’s no argument – it’s a catchy tune that’s perfect for those of us who seem to think red flags are a path to love.

This theme continues for the first half of What A Devastating Turn Of Events, with ‘My Everything’, ‘It Is What It Is’ and ‘Dumb Bitch Juice’ seeing Chinouriri shine in different ways. The former is another product of finding the right people to work. Working with producer apob, she was able to come into his studio in LA with a story about her ex and sonic inspiration taken from artists like Labrinth and Nirvana, then finish it months later on a serendipitous trip to the English countryside.

Stylistically and lyrically, ‘It Is What It Is’ and ‘Dumb Bitch Juice’ shows off how Rachel Chinouriri can have fun with her music. ‘It Is What It Is’ indulges her pettiness in the form of a song. Part spoken word and part sung; Chinouriri spews all of the things she wished she could’ve said to someone who led her on and then ghosted her, who coincidentally decided to resurface during the recording of this song which led to adding singing in the chorus. Paired with a happy-go-lucky whistle and voice notes from friends, it serves tongue-in-cheek musically.

The turning point of What A Devastating Turn Of Events is marked by the title track, which is one of the most serious and heartbreaking stories explored in the album – this time it isn’t one that Chinouriri experienced first-hand. There’s a distinct shift into a sadder, moodier, as she explores the experience of one of her family members who reached the point of sadness that unfortunately culminated in suicide. Using songwriting to help her process this, she breaks the barrier and gets a little more honest delivering a devastating song with a compelling bassline.

From here, the album continues into the sadness and leans into the theme of learning to let go and how to move on from that. Songs like ‘My Blood, Robbed’, and ‘Marie Kondo’ manage to be sad but groovy, somewhat reminiscent of early Avril Lavigne and Chinouriri continues the honesty with lyrics like “What do I do when pain comes at a price I can’t afford? / What if I’m not worth healing?” from My Blood. It’s incredible to hear how she’s mastered turning bad times into alarmingly relatable tunes; with the obviously sad song ‘I Hate Myself’ she doesn’t let us go without including a little self-forgiveness. The previously released and viral ‘So My Darling (Acoustic)’ purposely ends the record demonstrating her thoughtful artistry for a final time. This was one of the first songs she’d ever written and released, and it is usually the entry point for her fans; Chinouriri chose to hone in on the nostalgia by placing the familiar song after all of the new ones to give fans a throwback moment to settle with.

All in all, What A Devastating Turn of Events is an emotional whopper of a debut album filled with grungy melodies and strangely danceable bangers. It’s well worth a listen, there really is something for everyone in Rachel Chinouriri’s artistry, it might even help you recognise when you should block that person on Instagram.