by Riyana Goel (’26) | March 31, 2023
Lost. Searching. Broken. Healing. With her new album Good Riddance, released on February 24, 23-year-old popstar Gracie Abrams explores the intricacies of growing up, specifically her frustration with how finding one’s way often seems never-ending. Over fifty-three minutes, Abrams primarily expresses a feeling of uncertainty.
In her chart-topping single “Where do we go now?” Abrams poses the difficult question of whether or not to continue a relationship after realizing that her heart was never in it. In the song, Abrams admits that she “had to fake the longest time” but then contemplates whether they should “meet down the line / give an actual try.” Though Abrams laments throughout the song’s four minutes, she ends the song without any actual answer to the question. In fact, several of Abrams’s songs do not offer comfort or solutions, instead leaving listeners with a strange reassurance that someone else feels just as lost as they do.
Abrams’s lyricism is just one of many things in her debut album that give it a vulnerable quality. While her cathartic songwriting makes listeners feel like they are reading her private diary, Abrams’s voice is what lets fans into her heart. Her whispery singing adds an intimate undertone to her songs and creates the illusion that she is sharing a secret with her listeners. Although some critics feel that her voice lacks emotional variance, her steadfast, hushed tone is a clever technique that conveys her agitation, which matches the spiraling feeling of Good Riddance.
The production also helps the album retain its idiosyncratic vulnerability. Given that Good Riddance falls under the indie pop genre, much of Abrams’s vocals are accompanied by only a guitar. Additionally, the lack of vocal editing allows Abrams’s voice to maintain a raw quality that makes her sound more authentic, as if she is singing to a best friend in her bedroom.
The intimacy in Abrams’s twelve songs can be largely attributed to her producer Aaron Dessner, a founding member of the Grammy-winning band The National. Dessner has also worked with Taylor Swift on her record-breaking albums folklore, evermore, and Midnights. Like Swift, Abrams recorded her songs in the famous Long Pond Studios, in Upstate New York, and ties with the pop phenomenon don’t stop there: Swift announced that Abrams would be opening her headlining Eras Tour. Abrams was also the opening act for Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour Tour last year, and Rodrigo has even revealed that Abrams’s EP Minor largely inspired her hit single “drivers license.” However, Abrams recently started performing as more than just a concert opener. The singer kicked off her Good Riddance World Tour in Chicago on March 7 and will finish in San Francisco on April 11.
As the daughter of filmmaker and Star Wars director JJ Abrams, Gracie Abrams has been scrutinized at times for being a “nepotism baby.” However, she flourished with sensational lyrics, singing, and vocal techniques in Good Riddance and proved herself to be something exceedingly rarer than privileged: talented.
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