Words by Tom Farmer- @tomfarmer5000 @TomFarmerJourno
From North Greenwich to Trinidad, singer-songwriter Toni Sancho has drawn inspiration from across the world to craft a sound and style which is intensely likeable. Debut single “Survive” speaks of acceptance, sounds like an intimate chat with a friend and looks as though it could be the start of a bright journey for Sancho.
Raised in North Greenwich, East London, Sancho was a member of the Trinidadian diaspora in the UK capital, before returning to the Caribbean in her teens. Going from dingy pie and mash shops and predictable rainfall to a carnival atmosphere and sun-kissed beaches must have been quite the culture shock. At 20, Sancho returned to London with her mother and began to pursue music, still carrying her Trinidadian experience as a guiding artistic light. After signing to Spanish Prayers, an indie label ran by dream-pop quartet Cigarettes After Sex, Toni Sancho’s debut release shows immense promise.
Evoking the likes of Tracey Chapman and (more recently) Arlo Parks, “Survive” begins with jangly and rough acoustic guitar, as if it is just you and Sancho around a campfire. Lyrically, the sonic intimacy is paralleled in the lyrics: first-person and heartfelt. However, the track then seamlessly becomes a song to sway to and tap your feet, with the acoustic guitar met with smooth drum beats. Effortlessly layered with what sounds like trumpets and keys, the singer-songwriter does well to replicate the organised chaos of Caribbean carnival season, without the song losing its vital message.
That vital message? Optimism and smiling when things don’t go your way. Written in the early stages of pandemic life, whilst also coming out of a break-up, it would be fair to say that Sancho has experienced easier times. Sancho explains “Survive!” is about “recognising when a situation isn’t good for you and having the wisdom to walk away”: personal growth in the face of defeat. Whilst this has been a bit of a cliché over the last two years, Sancho delivers this message way more eloquently and melodically than many others have done.
With a track evolving smoothly from an intimate track to a rallying cry, with a proud nod to her diverse musical journey, Sancho has hit the ground running with a track which is hard not to like.
“Survive!” by Toni Sancho is out now on Spanish Prayers records. Stream here.