How are we all doing? Our therapist Gracie Abrams has jumpstarted a new treatment plan for us all to begin together with her debut album Good Riddance finally gracing our ears. Whether you’re trying to get over your ex or a little too in your head for your own liking, this project reads like a confessional with your best friend over a cup of coffee. The production by The National’s Aaron Dessner is sleek and cohesive- never overshadowing Gracie’s gorgeous tone and heart wrenching lyrics.
Sonically, the album is a perfect blend of the bedroom pop sound of Abrams’ first EP Minor and the indie folk sound of Dessner’s production on her second EP This Is What It Feels Like. The album’s lead single “Difficult” was previously featured in our Fresh Brewed Playlist #16 and served as a great introduction into Gracie’s headspace leading into the album. Defined by a moment of transformation and change in her life, it forced her to look inwards and our lives are all that much richer for it.
The album’s intro track “Best” is an emotionally charged look back on a relationship that Gracie admits she may not have been at her best in- holding nothing back as she details a great deal of self-hatred and selfishness. At first relatively simple production wise, the track grows gorgeously as she gives us one of the finest bridges I’ve heard in recent memory. “And I destroyed every silver linin’ you had in your head, All of your feelings, I played with them, Go ahead, we can just call it conditionin’, We were too different, you were so sensitive, Gave me the best of that, I was so, negligent, now I feel terrible ’bout how I handled it, And now I bet you resent, All of me, all of it, angry, blocking me over the internet, Promise I don’t forget all of my fault in this, ‘Cause look at me, I’m alone, sitting here, stayin’ home, All of my self control kinda got difficult, But I deserve it though, I deserve it though,” the melody of the bridge will haunt me for the rest of my days.
The next single “I know it won’t work” leans heavily into the indie rock sound that Abrams has teased on past projects (like underrated track “Wishful Thinking”) and the grit of the production pairs heavenly with her vocals. Lyrically, it’s about wanting to be with someone again despite knowing that it won’t work but wanting it anyway. “Why won’t you try movin’ on for once? That might make it easy, I know we cut all the ties, but you’re never really leavin’, And part of me wants you back, but, I know it won’t work like that, huh?”
“Where do we go now?” served as the album’s second single and has remained one of the best songs released by any artist so far this year. Hypnotic, the track paints a portrait of a connection that has faded with Gracie’s voice over a backdrop of strings and a pulsing beat. This is exactly how music is supposed to make you feel. “’Cause 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,” the bridge swells quite poignantly, like an explosion in between the repetitive nature of the chorus as Gracie takes ownership of her place within this now faded relationship.
“I should hate you” is an absolute standout among the impressive tracklist- an intimate depiction of the war your heart faces when you’ve tried your best to move on and despite all of the growth and the pain- you can’t let them go. It’s deeply personal, which makes it that much more relatable for anyone who has that one that’s gotten away. “After all of this time, I still get disappointed, Bet you’re doin’ alright and you don’t even know it, How it’s all ’cause of you that my standards are broken in my mind, I would bend back to you if you left the door open,” Gracie’s writing shines through here- how despite all of the backstabbing, she would go back to him if he felt the same.
Another standout is “Will you cry?’, a track that is most reminiscent of her previous work with Dessner on This Is What It Feels Like– particularly tracks like “Rockland” and “Camden”. And let me be clear, that is a major compliment. “Will you cry?” finds Gracie in a bit of a spiral as she questions if her partner will cry when their relationship ends. “‘Cause now I stop myself from holdin’ onto somethin’ that makes me feel a little less alive,” she details the feeling of going from all to nothing and the toll she knows it has taken on them both. Abrams shows a great deal of self-awareness throughout the project but it shines brightest here as she comes to the conclusion that this must come to an end.
“Amelie” is a hauntingly beautiful track where Gracie reminisces about a short but impactful interaction with a girl named Amelie over a dreamlike melodic guitar. Describing the confusion of trying to recall if their meeting was even a reality or just a dream, Abrams’ voice has never sounded better. “Why’d it feel louder, when all of it went unspoken,” her confusion and desperation over their interaction continues to haunt her with all she wishes she had said and the wonder of where Amelie is right now- something she may never know.
Tracks like “Full Machine” and “This is what the drugs are for” are other standouts on the album that definitely aren’t skips but don’t quite impact my ears at this present time. I can definitely picture both of them continuing to grow on me as the album continues on my endless repeats but for now they remain towards the bottom of the overall ranking.
“Fault Line” however is another highlight that deserves every bit of praise it has received. Comparing her partner to a fault line- the spot hidden underneath rocks where earthquakes can happen- is a sign that Gracie knows he can be dangerous and that his damage could ultimately break her. It’s a recognition of the red flags noticed within their partnership and the acknowledgement that he was not the person she thought him to be. “You could go and I bet I’d recover overnight, Finish hurtin’ each other, You feel lightyears away, If I met you today, I would run to the arms of another,” this line really says it all.
“The blue” marks a turning point on the album- a sense of a new beginning for Gracie where she unexpectedly meets someone who changes her trajectory and makes her fall in love again, which absolutely terrifies her. Hesitant due to her past relationship, she approaches it with caution but ultimately gives into him because he just might be everything she’s wanted. “Despite the space between us, I’ve never felt this close to someone, What if you’re my weakness?” The song has a sense of underlying hope that despite the pain and grief one can face, something or someone can come out of the blue into your life and set everything right.
The album’s final track “Right now” depicts the difficulties that going out on the road has caused Gracie as she poignantly details her fears of it impacting her family and her own mental state. Despite the harshness of touring and feeling isolated from the ones she loves, she unexpectedly feels more herself. “I’m so high, but can’t look down, Left my past life on the ground, Think I’m more alive somehow, I feel like myself right now, I’m so tired, but can’t sit down. What if this is it for now? Think I’m more alive somehow, I feel like myself right now,” she closes the album out on a gorgeous note. Those final piano chords serve as a gorgeous outro that feels like a much-needed sigh of relief amidst the tumultuous emotions felt throughout the earlier tracks.
Good Riddance is a self-reflective and poignant project that is the epitome of all that art is supposed to be. Just like life, the album is at times painful, hopeful, confusing, and peaceful- an amalgamation of every feeling that comes with being alive. Gracie Abrams shows an intelligence and maturity beyond her years, crafting an album that feels both deeply personal and grand- sure to catapult her to audiences of a higher scale. She is THE future of music.
Good Riddance is out now on all streaming platforms.