Gracie Abrams’s new album is “Difficult” to enjoy

Singer/songwriter Gracie Abrams releases her third full length LP Good Riddance.

Courtesy of Pitchfork

Singer/songwriter Gracie Abrams releases her third full length LP “Good Riddance.”

Lynn-Clara Tun, staff writer

In her time as an artist, Gracie Abrams has produced work that influenced Olivia Rodrigo’s “drivers license” and made her a creator of “sad girl music” alongside Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers. After earning herself a spot as a supporting act for Swift’s upcoming “The Eras Tour,” it’s safe to say that the singer has achieved commercial success. 

With that, it’s no surprise that Abrams would prepare to deliver her debut album “Good Riddance.” Released on Feb. 24, 2023, the album has received mixed reviews. It consists of twelve tracks co-written and produced by Aaron Dessner of The National with the lead single, “Difficult,” released in October of 2022. “Good Riddance” serves as her third project following her EPs “minor” and “This Is What It Feels Like.” “Good Riddance” provides the heartfelt lyrics that many seek, but the overall production of the album never reaches its full potential.

The album opener, “Best,” features a solo guitar before layering in Abrams’s signature trembling voice. The vulnerable lyrics narrate her failures in a previous relationship—“I was bored out my mind/Lost my whole appetite/When I could come to life, I didn’t”—and reference the album itself: “You fell hard, I thought ‘good riddance.’” Abrams’s songwriting provides a private admission of her own flaws that is typically unexpected for the first track of an album. However, these feelings of guilt and regret are perfectly executed by Abrams in a manner that sets the tone of self-reflection for the rest of “Good Riddance.”

“I know it won’t work,” the second song on the album, follows a similar theme. The personal lyrics mention Abrams’s relationship with her ex-boyfriend and ex-producer, “All the shine of half a decade fadin’/The whole facade/Seemed to fall apart, it’s complicated.” As the title implies, the track follows the emotions of wanting to return to her five-year relationship, even knowing it will fail. Accompanied with a steady kick drum, each line resonates with listeners and connects them to the story behind the song.

Yet, the freshness of the opening songs is short-lived. The following tracks begin to blend together, making it difficult to differentiate between them—an issue present in Abrams’s previous work. Listeners hoped that this longtime critique would change with new producer Dessner, but the album falls short of the mark. Each track is different in terms of lyricism, but the production follows the same pattern: quiet, layered vocals with soft guitar chords paired with a chorus consisting of the same repeated line. The only part that consistently stands out in the album are the striking bridges and outros that take a turn from the rest of the song. Still, between twelve songs, some tracks such as “Full machine” and “Fault line” are easily missed for this exact reason.

“Amelie,” the third single, is another example. The song sounds like a lazy attempt to provide variety to the singles, with the lyrics and instrumentals sounding jarringly different from each other. The worst part isn’t even the guitar strum boring a deeper hole in listeners’ ears every time it repeats, it’s the lack of sincerity throughout the entire song. The specificity of the name can’t save Abrams’s lyricism as it reaches a low with, “Where did you go/Amelie, Amelie, Amelie?/Where’d you go?/Or were you all in a dream/Amelie, Amelie?/I don’t know” repeated throughout the chorus, bridge, and outro. By the time the four-minute song is over, the only thing listeners will know for sure is not to name their future children “Amelie.”

The promising production of “The blue” and “Right now,” the last two tracks of “Good Riddance,” almost let the aforementioned issues fall away. “The blue” describes the emotions that follow meeting someone unexpectedly but taking an immediate likeness to them. The track is different from the previous songs on the album, with brighter vocals and a hopeful tone. “Right now,” the final track of “Good Riddance,” narrates Abrams’ feelings of floating, a recurring theme in the album. Abrams’s lilting voice reminisces on her childhood while taking pride in who she is now: “I’m so high, but can’t look down/Left my past life on thе ground/Think I’m more alive somehow/I feel likе myself right now.” The closing piano notes bring back the melancholy and yearning from the beginning of the album, tying “Good Riddance” back together.

Save for the few standout tracks, “Good Riddance” quickly becomes a drag, containing some of Abrams’s most genuine work and also her worst. “Good Riddance” is a diary entry with every thought that enters Abram’s brain made into music, leaving far too many parts that would be better off in the paper shredder than in the album booklet.