On Confessions and Vulnerability: Gracie Abrams Releases her Debut Album “Good Riddance”

Illustration by Diane Kim

Tia Trinh

Arts & Entertainment Co-Editor

Packing a hard punch right from the start, Gracie Abrams’s debut album Good Riddance was released on Friday, Jan. 24 following much anticipation and excitement from the artist and fans alike. The album offers us a range of emotions about love and growing up, each song feeling like a page of a diary that Abrams has kept over the years. Since her last EP, This Is What It Feels Like, which was released in 2021, and the hit songs she produced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 23-year-old offers us another look into her emotions.

As someone who has watched her music grow since her earliest releases in 2019, to hear the raw honesty and vulnerability of her debut album was simultaneously an exciting and heartbreaking experience. If there are two words that capture the essence of Abrams’s music, it has to be: painfully relatable.

Co-written and produced with Aaron Dessner at his Long Pond Studio, Abrams reflected on the album when she announced it on Instagram. Abrams wrote that this album “forced me to reflect and be accountable. It allowed me to walk away from versions of myself that I no longer recognized.” 

Each of the 12 songs on the album is masterfully crafted with very hard-hitting lyrics to tell the story of heartbreak, falling in love, and every emotion that falls in between.

Starting off with “Best,” this mellow, ballad-like song admits the shortcomings of a relationship and what it feels like to come to terms with one’s own faults. Abrams told Rolling Stone that this song “was the hardest to write. The lyrics sugarcoat nothing, stinging deeper with each verse…” Such honesty continues in the remaining songs.

Both “I know it won’t work” and “Where do we go now?” are songs that contrast a steady beat with powerful lyrics of introspection. She asks, “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’” in the second song on the track, reinstating those themes of reflection and heartbreak in this album. 

“Full machine,” the third track, bridges two different perspectives as she admits that “I’m better when you’re next to me.”

With the lovely guitar melodies that Abrams’s past music has embraced, “I should hate you” and “Will you cry” go hand in hand in their struggle to find closure in a relationship where red flags and boundaries become blurred lines. They cruelly admit that it can be hard to hate someone despite so many faults at hand.

Despite the catchy beats that are found in the majority of the album, Abrams falls back into emotional acoustics like “Amelie,” “This is what the drugs are for,” and “Fault line.” Each of these are a gentle contrast with the rhythm of the other songs, but their dreamy-like feel still addresses Abrams’ struggle with substance abuse and buried feelings that are frowned upon in social media. 

The two songs that bring the album to a close veer slightly from the heartbreaking lyrical poems that make up the bulk of the album. “The blue,” despite its somewhat melancholic melody, is the only love song on the album. Despite reservations, Abrams can’t help but fall in love with someone as she sings, “I never could’ve seen you comin’ / I think you’re everythin’ I’ve wanted.” It suggests the shock of someone stumbling into her life, in the best way possible.

The last song, “Right now,” encapsulates her journey thus far, and feelings of comfort and acceptance of herself. The lyrics recall her theme of family as she reminisces about her dog, mom, and little brother respectively. Regardless of it all, she gently sings, “Think I’m more alive somehow / I feel like myself right now.”

Perhaps the most powerful features of each of her songs are the choruses and bridges. Abrams has carefully crafted them with a blunt honesty that still touches the heart. They are truly songs to scream in the car alone or to listen to whilst on your back, staring up at your bedroom ceiling.

Abrams will be joining Taylor Swift as an opener for certain performances during her Era’s Tour. As a self-proclaimed Swiftie herself, Abrams told Vanity Fair, “I’m attending every minute of every night… I’m trying to learn from her in every way I can, and I’m trying to fucking hear all my favorite songs.” 

With this album, Abrams closes a door in her life to turn to a new beginning. Each track, no doubt a reflection of life and an acceptance of closure, allows Abrams to feel comfortable with herself as she continues to be the touching singer-songwriter that she is.

With her own tour coming up, as well as joining Taylor Swift, we can only look to the future with Abrams and ask, “Where do we go now?”