Gracie Abrams has always been an artist to wear her feelings on her sleeve. In her music, tiny, heart-breaking details are put front and centre, with specific minutiae shining through her lyrics. “I hyperfocus on details that may feel very irrelevant to other people, and rightfully so, but I’m just like a psychotic journaler,” she told NME last year of her songwriting process.
It’s these particular style of writing – that manages to be both relatable and precise – that have won the LA artist a huge fanbase. On 2020’s ‘I Miss You, I’m Sorry’ – from ‘Minor’, an EP that Olivia Rodrigo has said inspired the record-breaking ‘Drivers License’ – she sang: “You said forever and I almost bought it / Breaking dishes when you’re disappointed”. Follow-up project ‘This Is What it Feels Like’ saw The National’s Aaron Dessner lead on production duties, fusing Abrams’ deeply personal songwriting with layered, folk-flecked guitars and skittering electronics and adding a new depth to her previously cosy sound.
On Abrams’ long-awaited debut ‘Good Riddance’, she has teamed up with Dessner once again, whose distinctive Midas touch is evident across the 12-track collection. The album holds musical similarities to Taylor Swift‘s modern classic, ‘Folklore’ (also largely produced by Dessner), as well as other indie heroes like Phoebe Bridgers.
‘Where Do We Go Now?’ spins Abrams’ distinctive, silky vocals over swooning strings; ‘I Know It Won’t Work’, meanwhile, is a gritty slab of indie rock. While gorgeously done, often these instrumentals blend into each other, making it difficult to differentiate between tracks. ‘Full Machine’ and ‘Will You Cry?’ both fall victim to this, meaning that their stories feel hidden.
It’s a shame, as it’s the songwriting that really makes Abrams’ music shine. It’s no surprise that Abrams has a knack for storytelling; her father is filmmaker J. J. Abrams [Super 8, Star Trek]. On ‘Good Riddance’, the lyrics often spill like water, overflowing as Abrams opens herself up and exposes her most vulnerable self. On ‘Best’, which dissects Abram’s own misgivings in a relationship, she admits: “I never was the best to you”. Later, on the soaring bridge, she confesses: “I destroyed every silver lining you had / Promise I don’t forget / All of my fault in this”.
Album closer ‘Right Now’, a song filled powered by whirring synths, is a reflection of how difficult life on the road can get. “Am I losing my family / Every minute that I’m gone?”, Abrams sings, before eventually coming to a conclusion: “I’m more alive somehow / I feel like myself right now”. Her final words come as a breath of relief. It’s a poignant way to end her debut album; one that brilliantly, if subtly, displays a newfound maturity for Abrams.
- Release date: February 24
- Record label: Interscope/Polydor