Gracie Abrams: Pop’s Emerging Talent with a Grammy Nod and Taylor Swift’s Endorsement

BTN News: Having recently been nominated for Best New Artist at the Grammys and joining Taylor Swift on the road as well, 22-year-old Gracie Abrams is one of pop’s most promising rising stars. Given her candid, heart-on-her-sleeve approach to songwriting, Abrams exemplifies the kind of vulnerability that makes listeners immediately feel connected with her. The artist is an open book; her second album, The Secret of Us, trails along the labyrinth of her psyche revealing a nuanced emotional topography.

From that journey through infatuation and uncertainty, Abrams’s lead single “Risk” orients the songs in her new collection. Opening up the song with some cautionary pondering (“God, I’m actually invested/Haven’t even met him/Watch this be the wrong thing, classic”), it moves along to an indignant declaration (“Heard the risk of drought but I’ll be waiting”) The series change captures the peaks and valleys of her art.

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The track takes a slightly different route of Abrams’s ambivalence on “Let It Happen.” In this instance, she wonders: “I barely even know you but still/ Don’t love you yet but bet I will.” This unfiltered meditation of her immediate loves shows the depth of her capabilities in illustrating first encounters. More often than not, the instrumentation does a disservice to the subject matter – though her storytelling can be so vivid and detailed, her voice truly that of one person reciting her life’s tales directly to you, these songs just don’t deserve accompaniment with this little range.

If there’s a downside to Abrams’ delicacy of delivery, it is that her signature breathy vocals — which impressively never waver in their quietude throughout the set — can occasionally lack the force necessary to communicate the full brunt of what she’s feeling. The sole exception, “I Knew It, Now You Know,” finds Collard singing with a ragged edge to her voice and gets an uncomfortable hint at what she might do. As opposed to “I Love You, I’m Sorry,” which builds and leaves with tension heightened and unanswered but reaffirmed through her breathy vulnerability.

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Yet as always, however clunky the setup, Abrams may just be on the cusp of crafting the pop album you need her to craft. So for the time being, The Secret of Us promises well without fulfilling all of that promise.

Bright Times News Desk
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