Gracie Abrams captures raw emotion in “Good Riddance”

Gracie Abrams released her debut album after 4 years of making music

Interscope Records

Gracie Abrams released her debut album after 4 years of making music

by Hannah Moore, Reporter

On February 24, Gracie Abrams released her debut album, titled “Good Riddance.” This album had been highly anticipated, seeing as Abrams rose to popularity when she began her music career all the way back in 2019 with her single “Mean It”. 

Prior to the release, the singles “Difficult,” “Where Do We Go Now?” and “Amelie” were released, hinting at the heartbreak the album embodies. Good Riddance beautifully captures her reflection of complicated relationships and taking accountability for one’s actions.

On her previous extended play, “This is What it Feels Like,” the focus was put on Abrams’ own mental health. In contrast, her album took an interesting take on connections with others. 

Female artists often are ridiculed and criticized for every move. These women are always told that they write too much about their past relationships, that they are too emotional and that there is always something they could be doing better.

With that in mind, it takes a lot of strength to release something so vulnerable in such a critical environment. Abrams reflects on the process of writing the album, “I’d write a song and then I’d get really insecure about anyone else knowing that I wrote it,” Abrams told Rolling Stone. “It’s concerning to think about hurting a person because of something you’ve written.” 

Her worry of hurting others is understood in the fact that the songs on “Good Riddance” are not only personal to her but personal to who they are about as well. That is what makes her lyrics so captivating. She pushes through the fear of what others may think and produces something that is not only cathartic to her but her fanbase as well.

Songs like “Best” and “I Know It Won’t Worktake a more literal approach to reliving the complications of past relationships. In “Best,” the lyrics directly confront her own mistakes “You’re the worst of my crimes / you fell hard / I thought good riddance,” Abrams said. 

This is one of the stand-out lyrics on this album, drawing the inspiration for the title. The name itself brings a fresh take to such a common phrase. Though, in “Best,” Abrams seems to take the basic meaning of the expression good riddance; she is ready for the moment when she will be free of this person’s presence, the album title really takes that feeling to a deeper level.  

“I felt like there were a lot of personal shifts over the course of the year that the album came together, and [this album was about] walking away from versions of myself that I didn’t recognize anymore and very much saying ‘good riddance’ to those,” Abrams told Billboard.

Music is a huge outlet to so many of her fans and it is truly remarkable how her own growth manifests itself onto listeners. In a world filled with mountains of negativity and hate, positive influences are of such vast importance, especially to developing minds. 

Her message of honesty is made so clear with her word choices. That is the most beautiful thing about her album: her lyricism. She portrays emotions that are usually seen as unattractive in a way that makes them feel delicate, while still carrying the punch of the heavy feelings. 

From her lyrics, it seems as though her best friends are metaphors. “I’m a shameless caller / you’re a full machine / but won’t you answer tonight / and say something nice to me” Abrams sings in “Full Machine.”

Her thought-provoking lyrics make people feel the weight of her overthinking and puts listeners in her mind for the duration of the album. In “Full Machine” specifically, just looking on the surface, it may be hard to tell what she is actually talking about. When explored deeper, however, she conveys a relatable experience of almost begging for attention from someone who just will not give it.

This just shows the versatility of “Good Riddance”: to be able to produce both parabolic lyrics in some songs, and such straightforward ones, in songs like “Amelie.” 

Amelie perfectly captures the bittersweet feelings when reminiscing about the people you loved at one point that you now are left to miss. 

With Abrams’ finishing off the U.S. leg of the “Good Riddance” after two months and beginning as an opener for Taylor Swift on the Eras Tour, when she walks off the stage, fans know the feeling of missing her all too well.

On Saturday, March 18, Abrams continued on her  tour with a show at the Howard Theatre in Washington D.C.

Many fans had been waiting in line outside the venue since as early as 6 a.m. and were ecstatic to make their way into the sold-out show over 12 hours later. 

Before Abrams made her way to the stage for her set, the show kicked off with an opening act by the band Tiny Habits. The group of three have chemistry through the roof and lyrics that appeal perfectly to Abrams’ demographic. They begin their own tiny tour in June, with tickets for sale here.

Abrams blew the crowd away with her performance of “21” (Hannah Moore)

After tortuous hours of anticipation, Abrams kicked off her set with “Where Do We Go Now?”, instantly lighting up the stage and crowd. 

Her live vocals blow her recorded tracks out of the park and give one an even deeper appreciation of her talent. One can not only admire her talent, but her love for her supporters as well. Abrams always makes sure to wave and tell the crowd she loves them any chance she gets.

“When we were making this album, Aaron [Dessner, producer and co-writer] and I kept saying it’s gonna be so magical to play this one time.” Abrams told the crowd at the D.C. show. “Like, eventually we’re gonna play these songs live and it’s gonna feel so good. This has beyond exceeded my expectations.”

Despite the gratitude she expresses, the interaction with countless fans and the astounding vocals, the most impressive part of Abrams’ shows is the anxiety she overcame to be where she is today.

“I love performing now, and that’s due to how truly kind my audience is. They’re all sensitive people too, and that has changed my life,” Abrams told Billboard. “Seeing them cry and dance and laugh in the audience makes me feel like I can do all those things too.”

She serves as an inspiration, pushing past a condition that holds so many people back. As a fan, it feels incredibly soothing to see someone struggle with many feelings you struggle with and succeed, especially knowing that you are a part of the reason for that growth and success.

While feeling that admiration and pride for their favorite artist, the sea of people on the floor could not hold in their ‘I love you’s as Abrams got close up, grabbing their phones to record herself singing and holding their hands while she did so.

Abrams played almost the entirety of “Good Riddance”, as well as fan favorites from her previous EPs, such as “21”, “Camden,” “I Miss You, I’m Sorry” and “Minor”: the title track of her first EP.

The standout performance of the entire show, however, was one of Abrams’ most popular songs, “Feels Like”. During this song she had the most fan interactions, taking a pride flag from a fan and wrapping it around herself while she sang. Abrams also wore a neon pink wig from a fan, making it a true tradition on her tours.

Hannah Moore

Her unconditional love for her supporters truly made the concert the beautiful experience that it was. She expressed the sentiment of growing up with her fans and how special they are to her.

“I can’t quite express my gratitude for knowing you all.” Abrams told the crowd during her speech. “You’re genuinely the most magical, special, hysterical, vulnerable community I’ve ever been a part of and the fact that you’ve let into your lives and that we can be in the same room ever is a miracle to me.”

After her heartfelt thanks to the crowd, she played a few more of her old songs in honor of some of her original fans and ended with “Right Now”, the closing track of “Good Riddance”.

“I feel like myself right now,” Abrams sang before exiting the stage, leaving her fans with tears and smiles on their faces.