Gracie Abrams | Good Riddance | Interscope Records

Review: Gracie Abrams – Good Riddance

National Music Reviews

Gracie Abrams 
Good Riddance   

Interscope Records
Street: 02.24
Gracie Abrams = Hozier x Holly Humberstone

Even before she started on her debut album, 23-year-old singer-songwriter Gracie Abrams had a monumental task ahead of her: Craft an album that would simultaneously be true to herself and could match up with the astronomical success of a handful of her power singles (“21” among them). 

Her two previous EP releases, Minor and This Is What It Feels Like, set the foundation for what’s becoming Abrams’ staple as an artist—intimate, painfully self-aware and introspective pop. It’s a particular niche that’s cemented Abrams into the new generation of empathetic and careful songwriters and conveyers of raw emotion that also includes Conan Gray, Holly Humberstone and more. Breakout pop artist Olivia Rodrigo, who Abrams opened for on tour last year, even nodded to the artist as inspiration for her own craft. 

That foundation that Abrams has honed into so successfully is tried and true on her highly anticipated 12-track debut album, Good Riddance. Her staples that her fans love her for are there: soft-spoken implores of gut-wrenching lyrics, careful crooning set to low-stakes, thoughtful production and astute, emotionally wise imagery. The album opens with “Best,” a brutally self-aware track that has the album’s title drop in it and sets the wider stage for the introspective qualities of Abrams’ writing throughout the body of work. 

“Full Machine” is a prime example of how Abrams can juxtapose imagery. She describes a pair of people who can be a rollercoaster and a dead-end street, a shameless caller and a full machine, a forest fire and kerosene. It’s the ending of this song, though, that strikes the biggest chord: “It’s just that I’ll always choose you.” Here, you can see faint hints of producer Aaron Dessner’s (of The National) touch, also known for working on Taylor Swift’s Folklore. His input is also present in in “Will you cry?,” when Abrams gets away with crooning “breaking my reverie” a dreamy word that one wouldn’t normally find in pop music. 

For some, the intimate pop collection will take some getting used to. Though it has its upbeat moments (such as the bridges of singles “Where Do We Go Now,” “Difficult” and “I should hate you”), the album is a bit of a slow burn and listen. Even though the two closing tracks, “The blue” and “Right now,” are also soft, it’s their lyrics—a touch more positive and hopeful than their melancholy predecessors—that demand attention. In “Right now” : ‘Left my past life on the ground, think I’m more alive somehow / I feel like myself right now.” The repetition of the chorus in “The blue” helps create a sense of wonder for listeners. 

Abrams speaks and pronounces her words like they are simultaneously pleas to be heard and secrets she shares that can only be understood by a select crowd. She sounds the clearest in “I should hate you,” and in “Amelie” she sounds so raw that it’s almost painful to listen. On Good Riddance, Abrams displays a full range of vocal craft.

On “I know it won’t work,” the wait for the pick-up in the song pays off, a push and pull between the upbeat chorus and softer verses. “Fault line” is a song that can be best described as a lyrical double-edged sword: “I know you’re a fault line / but I’ll break too / cracking at the same time / does it shock you?”.

With Good Riddance, Abrams has achieved a level of emotional maturity that veteran musicians hope to hold onto their entire careers. On it, she is kind, delicate and often hypercritical of herself for feeling so intensely. It’s a triumph in terms of showcasing her skills and another step on the ladder for her ever-growing career. From here, the sky is the limit. If she is this thoughtful at 23,: what will 24, 25 and so on bring? –Palak Jayswal