Search The Line of Best Fit
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Good Riddance showcases the delicate side of Gracie Abrams’ confessional songwriting

"Good Riddance"

Release date: 24 February 2023
GRACIE ABRAMS - Good Riddance cover
22 February 2023, 09:00 Written by Amaya Lim

Somehow, Good Riddance is Gracie Abrams’ debut album.

To date, she’s released a seven-song single in 2019 and a twelve-song EP in 2021, both to critical acclaim. Her discography up to this point was produced by Blake Slatkin, her boyfriend of many years and the subject of This Is What It Feels Like. They worked on the project while separated and were back together by the time of its release, but it seems like with Good Riddance, Abrams is processing a very permanent unravelling.

Since Slatkin, Abrams’ most frequent collaborator has been The National’s Aaron Dessner, who co-wrote and produced Good Riddance. Dessner’s indie rock background draws light to an especially delicate side of Abrams’ confessional songwriting; where her previous work was charming in its teenage intensity, this record handles itwith nuance – “all the shine / of half a decade fading.” While some of the songs feel contradictory or unsure, these frustrating aspects of the writing reflect the turbulence of the dissolution of a relationship, the internal struggle that begets the final blow. Seeing the album through this lens, assuming intentionality, Good Riddance verges on greatness, an incredibly honest portrayal of guilt, doubt, and heartbreak.

Disappointingly, the greatness verges but never crests. Abrams’ writing is both hyperspecific and extremely vague, referring to situations and characters that lack essential context. In a strange lyrical motif, multiple choruses on the record, including that of lead single “Where do we go now?”, are made up of a single phrase repeated over and over. Where the record’s verses hint at revelation, its hooks fail to come to any real conclusions.

Really, it is unsurprising that Abrams is struggling to say anything new; Good Riddance is her third project written about her tumultuous relationship with Slatkin. Where the record really shines is when she turns her attention to new love. “The Blue” is a standout track, tucked into the final act of the album. Her hopefulness feels fresh among the other material, her signature whispered vocals repurposed from apologies to cautious optimism. The song demonstrates the kind of poetic songwriting capabilities Abrams displayed on This Is What It Feels Like and provides a glimpse into the potential profundity of her future efforts.

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