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Album Review: ‘Good Riddance’ lacks authenticity from Gracie Abrams

In 2019, Gracie Abrams was an aspiring singer posting videos on Instagram, covering artists such as Billie Eilish. Flash forward four years later and the singer is now opening for Taylor Swift on her upcoming “Eras Tour” and working with The National’s Aaron Dessner on her debut album, “Good Riddance.”

On “Good Riddance,” Abrams is simply just grappling with feelings of nostalgia, looking back at the minor and major experiences in her life that have shaped her into the 23-year-old pop artist she is now. From honest confessions to distant memories, the singer is able to encapsulate what it means to have a past and present self, and how they both can intertwine with one another at times.

Yet, just like many of pop’s rising stars, Abrams seems to be heavily influenced by newcomers such as Olivia Rodgrio, creating solemn bedroom pop songs that don’t do much but fill the space in between the tracks that are actually worth noting. Although, the few that do keep listeners engaged are the tracks that prove the singer knows how to emit the emotions of loss and hope.

“Best” opens the album, which sees Abrams admit that she didn’t treat their significant other, right, saying, “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.” It’s a vulnerable first track, but also emits this tone for the rest of the album, an evident quiver in Abrams’s voice and sound.

Moving on, Abrams shines bright on “I know it won’t work,” struggling to move on from a relationship that she wished she could fix. Unlike the light production and heavy emphasis on her voice in “Best,” this song sees the singer bring in synths and drums to produce a more upbeat heartbreak anthem, which is one of her best on the album.

Sounding like a knockoff of Taylor Swift’s “the last great american dynasty,” Abrams’s “Full machine” is a song that drags on even with solid songwriting within it, same with the track that follows it, “Where do we go now?” Luckily, “I should hate you” is one of the singer’s most impressive ballads on “Good Riddance,” with lyrics that bring a broken relationship to life, as well as Abrams’s pain and memories of the past with someone she once loved.

The most noteworthy track though is “Amelie,” a confession of Abrams being attracted to another woman, wondering where their relationship could’ve gone if she would’ve spoken up. Yet, the lyrics reveal a sense of disillusion and regret, one that many individuals feel when they reflect on their sexuality in the current political climate we’re in. She sings, “Why'd it feel louder / When all of it went unspoken? / All I can do is hope that / This will go away,” which emphasizes this feeling, but Abrams also sings with longing in her voice as she asks, “Where did you go / Amelie, Amelie, Amelie?”

As the album comes to a close, Abrams gets a little repetitive with her storylines and themes, evident on tracks like “Difficult” and “This is what the drugs are for,” and the momentum of this dark and emotional landscape the singer has created starts to slow down, making its ending too weak. The only song that helps Abrams get to the finish line is its last track, “Right now.”

“Right now” sees the singer recalling her childhood home, as well as her parents and their little habits, and singing about these quirks as she’s now in a new setting as a musician. Away from her hometown and the people she’s comfortable with, Abrams wishes she could go back to the past again and live a life of simplicity. She sings, “Am I losin' my family / Every minute I’m gone? / What if my little brother / Thinks my leavin' was wrong?,” her current thoughts tangled around the idea of losing the people closest to her because of her passion for music.

At 12 tracks, “Good Riddance” is not necessarily a bad first album from Abrams, but shows that pop influences from the musicians and producers around her may be hindering their emotional depth and variety as a singer. While the singer has a few important moments of reflection and vulnerability throughout and is honest with her audience, it seems that Gracie Abrams still lacks her voice at its most authentic.

Rating: 2.5/5


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