You might not know Gracie Abrams but you certainly know her influence. The 22-year-old (who is also the daughter of film director JJ Abrams) was the musical inspiration behind Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License”, who penned that 2021 megahit “after crying to Gracie Abrams’ songs in my car for an hour”. Clearly, her intimate singing style, low-key production and searing honesty are a winning formula.
On her debut album, Good Riddance, Abrams has shed all bells, whistles and happy thoughts for a record that sails slowly through a more self-interrogating kind of heartbreak than the feisty pop-punk of Rodrigo’s.
Good Riddance is produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner and it is sprinkled with ghostly strums and picked guitar that sounds like woodland sprites dancing tentatively in the distance. She lands somewhere on the songwriting spectrum between Phoebe Bridgers and Taylor Swift, twisting expectations, like on “Best”, where she confesses that she “never was the best to you”, revealing that the title Good Riddance actually refers to what you could essentially describe as her getting the ick.
Abrams’ whisper-soft vocals suggest intimacy, but rather than a friend telling you what’s going on with her, Good Riddance is so tight and insular that listening to it sometimes feels more intrusive, like listening in to a therapy session.
As intimate and beautifully drawn as the songs almost universally are, it’s so relentlessly downbeat that it becomes difficult to tune into for a whole album. The songs are so consistently morose that the lines between them become impossible to find: a funk descending over you like a cloud moving across the sun. Few songs have a rhythm that suggests forward motion (anxiety anthem “Difficult” has a rare beat). This is an album for wallowing in and not for moving on.
Songs to stream: “I Know That I Should Hate You”, “Right Now”, “Best”, “Difficult”