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“Good Riddance”: A Review of Gracie Abrams’ Debut Album

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

A rising star in the indie pop scene, Gracie Abrams released her debut album, Good Riddance on Feb. 24, 2023. For the past few years, Abrams has been making waves – from being the inspiration behind Olivia Rodrigo’s hit single “Driver’s License,” to being an opener for Taylor Swift this year on her highly anticipated The Eras Tour. After dropping EP Minor in 2020, and project This Is What It Feels Like in 2021, fans have been eagerly awaiting an album from Abrams, and she did not disappoint.

Differing from her previous works, Good Riddance dives more into confessional reflection on Abrams’ experience throughout her relationships, showcasing a more vulnerable side of Abrams she hasn’t shared before. The album grapples with feelings of nostalgia, sobering confessions, distant memories, and present and future anxieties. Abrams brings the listener along through her past, to the present, and where she may go in the future, and encapsulates how these relationships might all even intertwine simultaneously. Working alongside producer and co-writer Aaron Dessner (founding member of The National and known for producing many of Taylor Swift’s works), their collaboration on this record, Abrams says, is “a very tiny bubble, which felt like such a safe space to work through what I needed to process in these songs.”

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Interscope Records

Diving into the album, Abrams opens with “Best”; a song where she describes not having treated her partner well. It’s a vulnerable piece that sets the tone for the rest of the album.

“I never was the best to you….

We were too different, you were so sensitive

Now, I feel terrible ’bout how I handled it

And now, I, now I bet you resent all of me”

This track illustrates Abrams’ lost love that she blames herself for due to her behavior, leading into the entire album’s story of a tragic, unfinished love affair. The 52-minute-long record has songs blending between her intimate lyrics as if Abrams was interpolating pieces from her personal diary in the stories she tells. While being so vulnerable and emotional to her audience, each song is open-ended enough for a listener to interpret in their own way and relate to themselves as well.

The album continues on, each track illustrates how this loss Abrams is facing is certainly not good riddance, or that even perhaps it may have been good riddance for her partner to have lost her, due to the burden she feels she carries and insecurities she has, as written in tracks such as “Full Machine”:

“I’m codependent but trying hard not to be / I’m better when you’re next to me”

These themes can be seen in “Will you cry?” as well:

“Now, you walk through me with my heart heavy

Breaking my reverie, I could die early….

‘Cause now I stop myself from holdin’ on to somethin’

That makes me feel a little less alive”

Good Riddance also depicts Abrams’ processes of healing, with the tracks “I should hate you” and “This is what the drugs are for” — both showing the duality of the post-breakup healing process of being better and then being heartbroken. Jumping back and forth between these rollercoaster emotions are palpable to the listener, and shows how she truly is unable to get her partner off of her mind. 

Building away from her lost relationship, tracks “Difficult” and “Right now” stem into a different facet of emotions Abrams also wrestles with — that loss-of-innocence age and adaptation in growing up and moving away from her family. The lyrics here show the sense of loss and homesickness she knows and is anxious about inevitably feeling as she has reached the age of moving away from her parents and her younger brother; the lyrics ask herself ‘am I losin’ my family every minute I’m gone? What if my little brother thinks my leavin’ was wrong?’.

Between all of the ups and downs Abrams pens on Good Riddance, this emotional work demonstrates Abrams’ strong storytelling and songwriting talents. Whether it be the vocally emotive “Will you cry?”, “I should hate you,” or “Fault line,” or the hard-hitting lyrics of “Difficult,” “Best” or “Full machine,” Good Riddance is a heartbreakingly beautiful piece of work that stands strong as Abrams’ first album.

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Samira Sayan

U Mass Amherst '23

Samira is the Pinterest Coordinator and a senior honors student at UMass Amherst, majoring in marketing and communications. Some of her passions are pop culture, music, and traveling. When she's not writing, you can find her hanging out with friends, binging her favorite TV series, or teaching/taking a spin class.