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Take a Break from Crying to “Red (Taylor’s Version)” — and Cry to This Album Instead

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Northwestern chapter.

If you’re a Swiftie like me you’ve been listening to “Red (Taylor’s Version)” nonstop since its release Nov. 12. Well almost nonstop. Because I’ve also been listening to another heartwrenching album: “This is What it Feels Like” by singer-songwriter Gracie Abrams, which came out the same day. 

If her name looks familiar, it’s because she’s the daughter of famous filmmaker J.J. Abrams (think “Star Wars” and “Star Trek”). Or maybe you’ve heard Olivia Rodrigo cite her as an influence for “Driver’s License.” Even if you’ve never heard of her, now is the time to change that. Once you’ve run out of tissues after listening to “Red (Taylor’s Version),” add “This is What it Feels Like” to the queue. And go back to Target, you’re going to need more tissues. 

I’ve been hooked on Gracie since discovering her song “21” during quarantine and listening to her EP “minor” on repeat. So when she announced her debut album, I knew I had to listen (after I finished my 2 hour listen of “Red (Taylor’s Version)” of course). And I was not disappointed. Gracie’s airy vocals meet confessional lyrics to create 38 beautiful minutes of music. Whether you’re going through a breakup or struggling with what it means to be an adult, Gracie’s lyrics feel personal yet relatable for any listener. 

Gracie takes a page from Taylor Swift’s handbook, using emotionally evocative lyrics and specific details to really tear at the heartstrings. Hey, she even uses the same producer as Taylor Swift:“folklore” and “evermore” producer Aaron Dessner from The National. Dessner produced the four most heartbreaking tracks on Gracie’s album: “Rockland,” “Augusta,” “Hard to Sleep” and “Camden” (a personal favorite of mine). “Rockland” itself sounds like the younger sister of “illicit affairs” from “folklore,” showing the clear influence Taylor has on younger artists like Gracie. 

This influence all makes sense given Gracie is a self-proclaimed Swiftie who grew up listening to Taylor and even posted Tik Toks of herself tearing up to “All Too Well (Taylor’s Version).” Despite the many similarities between the two artists, Gracie brings a new, refreshing perspective to modern music and shows that thoughtful lyricism isn’t done in pop. Lyrics like “I only thought it for a minute but it got me down/The kind of feeling when you’ve got something to cry about” from “Hard to Sleep” sound like they are straight out of a diary entry. Touching on themes like struggles with mental health, Gracie’s lyrics feel truly confessional and personal and show that she is making her own name for herself in the music industry.

While most of the songs on the album are tearjerkers (especially the heartbreaking final track “Alright”), Gracie is not too shy to include some earworms that stay in your head. I’ve had opening track “Feels Like” on repeat since she released it as a single on Oct. 1. And when I say on repeat, I truly mean it — I think I listen to this song two to three times a day. A departure from her many songs about heartbreak and sadness, “Feels Like” is a tribute to her best friend, making it that much more uplifting and meaningful to listen to. 

While “Camden” is my favorite sad song on the album, another favorite of mine has been “The Bottom,” a catchy song with an underlying message of not feeling good enough for someone and worrying that you’re bringing them down. This song has slowly been replacing “Feels Like” in my rotation when I need an upbeat break from the many emotional songs on the rest of the album as well as “Red (Taylor’s Version)” (I’ve been bouncing back and forth between the two albums.). 

If you can’t tell from all I’ve written so far, I can’t recommend this album enough. So when you need a break from crying to the 10 minute version of “All Too Well,” press play on “This is What it Feels Like.” But warning, you’ll probably cry to this one as well. It’s time for sad girl winter.

Jessie Chaiet

Northwestern '23

Jessie Chaiet is a senior from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, studying Journalism and Economics at Northwestern University. In her free time, she loves to go to the gym, keep up with the latest pop culture news and curate Spotify playlists.