Culture Pick: Gracie Abrams stuns with debut album “Good Riddance”


Courtesy of Apple Music

“Good Riddance” album cover.

Alyssa Schubert, Staff Reporter

The high and the comedown. Loving and losing. Hurting and healing. Singer-songwriter Gracie Abrams exhibits all these themes in her highly anticipated first studio album, “Good Riddance,” which dropped on Feb. 24.

Over the past few years, the 23-year-old has gained quite the following, from being the opening act on Olivia Rodrigo’s “Sour World Tour” to releasing the acclaimed EPs “Minor” and “This is What it Feels Like.” Abrams is also set to be one of the openers for Taylor Swift on her “Eras Tour,”  which kicks off on March 17.  

The record is 12 tracks long, including lead singles “Difficult,” and “Where do we go now?” “Where do we go now?When announcing the album, via Instagram on Jan. 9, Abrams expressed the significance of what this new music means to her and what she hopes it will mean to her fans.  

“Writing this record allowed me to grow up in ways I needed to. It forced me to reflect and be accountable. It allowed me to walk away from versions of myself that I no longer recognized. It allowed me to let go,” she wrote in her Instagram caption.  

All those feelings were evident throughout the track list, each song capturing Abram’s emotions and turning them into pictures, painted vividly with her polished lyricism. In the song “Right now,” Abrams revisits images from her childhood with lyrics like “And the faint overhearing/ Of my mom on the phone/ through the walls of my bedroom/ things that I shouldn’t know.” The song reminisces on the life she lived in youth and eloquently describes the growing pains that come with leaving your past self behind.  

Abrams told Vanity Fair that she uses it as a reminder “of how quickly you can change when you’re in your twenties.”  

In one of Vogue’s “Beauty Secrets” episodes on YouTube, Abrams took the time to talk about her new album and requested that fans listen to it with “headphones and in track list order.” It is apparent as to why after the first listen: the album reads like a diary. It is a glimpse into the artist’s mind, beginning with the rawness of stepping out of an old relationship and ending with the reeling of walking away from childhood. It explores the different facets of falling in and out of love with others and with oneself.  

The only true love song on the record, “The blue” comes toward the end, in which Abrams reveals that there may be someone new in her life. The song is full of visceral feelings, but none more apparent than during the euphoric chorus of “You came out of the blue like that/ I never could’ve seen you coming/ I think you’re everything Ive wanted.”  

The entirety of the record was recorded at Long Pod Studios in upstate New York, which famously housed Taylor Swift and her live recording of the Record of the Year, “folklore.” Abrams not only shared the location with her idol, but also a producer in Aaron Dessner, who worked with Swift on her sister studio albums “folklore” and “evermore”, as well as lending his talents to “Red (Taylor’s Version)” and the recording-breaking “Midnights.” The two had nothing but praise for each other, complimenting not only their ability, but also their character.  

“He is one of the very few people in this world capable of making others feel safe to their core when they are exploring the parts of themselves that are most raw,” Abrams wrote in the aforementioned Instagram caption.  

Dessner’s choice of producing is unique and transcending. Between Abrams’ lullaby, raspy voice and Dessner’s exquisite ear for detail, the two created an album of brutal honesty and silken melodies.  

“It’s been one of the most natural and prolific collaborations of my career — the tonality of music I would sketch each day somehow served as an ideal home for Gracie’s introspective lyricism and sense of melody,” Dessner said of his collaboration with Abrams.  

Perhaps one of the most noticeable talents Abrams possesses and presents, not only on “Good Riddance,” but throughout her discography as a whole, is the ability to build a bridge. Each bridge in each song on the track list was meticulously crafted and ended up rounding out the songs with a profusely catchy tune attached.  

In the lead track, “Best,” the song picks up tempo during the bridge and Abrams sings of what seems to be a confession, with the words “And I destroyed every silver lining you had in your head/ All of your feelings, I played with them.”   

While there are many themes throughout the album, the one that overarches them all is growth. Abrams told Vanity Fair this album is what helped her grow up, not just as a songwriter, but as a person.  

“I think a lot of my songwriting in the past almost placed blame on others before reflecting on my own role in a situation,” Abrams said. “With Good Riddance, I wanted to grow out of that really desperately. I wanted to be more thoughtful and more accountable.”  

Many lyrics encapsulate that need to take responsibility when things fall apart, but none more so than in the chart-topping single, “Where do we go now?” It is a song of a failed relationship, one Abrams desperately wanted to fix, but instead, ultimately realizes she was the one who broke it. Her emotions bubble over the edge during the bridge, “Now I’m half of myself here without you / You’re the best in my life / And I lost you / And we had no control when it fell through/ It was one-sided, hate how I hurt you.”  

Abramss debut is diverse and deeply personal, with delectable bedroom pop holding hands with soul-shattering ballads about lost love. The juxtaposition between songs like “This is what the drugs are for” and “Fault line” create a sense of chaos surrounded by otherwise normalcy, and instills an ultimate recognition that these things happen in our lives as well. Relatability is a promise; listeners might even think Abrams peered into their own minds while crafting it.   

On March 7, Abrams will kick off her very own “Good Riddance World Tour” in Chicago, Illinois, and while fans were already grappling for tickets, this album is the final precursor for what is sure to be a sold-out tour.  

“Good Riddance” is a journey through the complexities of growing up, being in your 20s, and trying to find the truest versions of yourself, even if that means you get lost along the way. Abrams breaks your heart into the tiniest of pieces but bandages it back together with sensitivity and fervor all within 53 minutes. Defining oneself in the music industry is no small task, but Abrams took the challenge in stride and crafted an album full of daring and passion, leaving fans breathless, tearless and overall, in love.