By: Bridie Beamish
On Feb. 24, 23-year-old American singer-songwriter Gracie Abrams released her debut studio album, Good Riddance. Her new release, consisting of 12 songs, is similar to her EPs as it showcases vulnerability, love, bitter-sweet memories, and growth. Yet, it differs as it holds the singer accountable for the mistakes she has made and reflects on her shortcomings. Released by Interscope Records and written by Abrams with the help of Aaron Dessner, Good Riddance became an instant hit; numerous of the album’s songs reached Billboard’s Hot Trending Songs chart, and I Know It Won’t Work led the chart at No.1.
Abrams, who will embark on Taylor Swift’s The Eras tour this year as an opening act for select dates, described her album: “I think a lot of the songs feel like almost versions of an apology. It felt new to me to write from that place rather than using a song as a place to throw blame and almost point fingers.” The singer additionally explained her album’s title and significance by stating, “I found myself just being very relieved to be able to say ‘good riddance’ to a lot internally that I needed to outgrow.”
The album’s opener, Best, is a sorrowful and regretful song about not loving someone in the way they loved you and the guilt that comes with it. It perfectly encapsulates Abrams’ vulnerability and self-critical take on her new release. I Know It Won’t Work is a similar song focusing on moving on and Abrams’ inability to feel the same way as her partner. Additionally, Where Do We Go Now? — currently, the most-listened-to song on the album due to its original release as a single — alludes to a stagnant relationship and the act of losing someone you love due to emotional differences.
Other songs shy away from these themes. Featuring melancholy tunes and soft-spoken notes, Amelie — a favorite of mine — narrates Abrams’ confusion as she attempts to recount an impactful conversation with a girl named Amelie. However, she cannot determine if the conversation was even real. Additionally, Difficult describes the challenges that Abrams faces daily surrounding several aspects of her life, such as her family, insecurities, and decision-making. The song mixes gloomy notes with a more upbeat chorus to depict both sadness and frustration. Another of my favorites, the album’s outro Right Now is a heartbreaking, angelic ballad about regret and leaving behind one’s old life to prioritize growth, happiness, and sense of self.
Unfortunately, the album is also often lackluster. Though many of the songs are beautiful on their own, combined in an album, they lack individuality. With similar themes and recurring melodies, it becomes hard to decipher which song is which, and the writing falls flat in certain areas. Yet, the depth of the ballads and the meanings behind them outweigh the album’s repetition.
(Sources: Billboard, NME)