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  • Kaitlyn Nicole

Album Review: "The Secret of Us" - Gracie Abrams


Gracie Abrams The Secret of Us Album Cover

Break-out Los Angeles singer/songwriter Gracie Abrams has released her second full-length album, "The Secret of Us". Mostly co-written and produced with Aaron Dessner, "The Secret of Us" features 13 tracks along with songs like the hit single "Risk" and "us." which features Gracie's friend and long time inspiration, Taylor Swift.


TRACKLIST

Felt Good About You

Risk

Blowing Smoke

I Love You, I'm Sorry

us. (feat. Taylor Swift)

Let It Happen

Tough Love

I Knew It, I Know You

Gave You I Gave You I

Normal Thing

Good Luck Charlie

Free Now

Close To You


Gracie started releasing music in 2019 and took pop music fans by storm when her song "i miss you, i'm sorry" went viral. Gracie since then released 2 EP's, her debut album in 2023 titled "Good Riddance", and now "The Secret of Us". She went on tour as an opener for Taylor Swift on The Eras Tour last year and was nominated at The Grammys for Best New Artist. Gracie is known for her introverted personality and soft, raw voice. Her style blends tones of pop, indie folk and alt. rock to create a sound that many music lovers can get into. She's an incredible lyricist as well, and often gets compared to Taylor Swift in whom she also collaborated with on this album for track 5, "us.". Let's dive in!


Felt Good About You


Opening up the album, we have the song "Felt Good About You". It's about that moment when you realize you're better off without someone; and you're still a little disappointed that it didn't work out because there was a time where being with them did feel good. There's a stunning guitar riff in this song with an effect that almost makes it sound like it's being recorded underwater. It's a dazing, hazy soundscape that is beautiful but messes with your mind a little bit - kind of like the relationship Gracie is singing about here. Tambourine helps pick up the energy and gives the song more of Gracie's classic folk vibes that we know and love.



Risk


"Risk" acts as the leading single, released just a little less than two months before the album. It was the first song written when the writing for this album began. Starting off with a catchy, ornamented acoustic guitar progression, "Risk" becomes an instant banger. The song is about catching feelings for someone that you don't even really know yet; but you're so invested that you'd risk anything just to be with them. The song picks up the energy as it goes on and has a stomping beat. The groove, vocals and melody give this sense of anxiety, and Gracie does a really great job and emanating that "oh my god I don't know what to do with my feelings right now" type of situation. There are these moments where she shouts that take the mood to a whole new level. This song comes with a music video, which I was really surprised with. We see Gracie come out of her shell here, a lot more than we've ever seen before.



Blowing Smoke


When you hear someone use the saying, "they're just blowing smoke", that usually means that someone is wrongfully praising someone in order to get their approval. In Gracie's song, she's singing of a guy who just carelessly takes advantage of girls; explaining that those new girls may tell him what he wants to hear, but she's been there and now can see right through him. She calls him out on all his wrongful doings with lyrics that make you say "ouch" - but hey, he clearly deserves it. "Blowing Smoke" has a pulsing rhythm with acoustic guitar. The gentle, ringing keys that stay consistent throughout the song make the track stand out.



I Love You, I'm Sorry


The title of "I Love You, I'm Sorry" seems to be an ode to Gracie's breakout track from 2020, "i miss you, i'm sorry" which is still Gracie's most streamed song of all time. Fans are calling "I Love You, I'm Sorry" the sequel to "i miss you, i'm sorry", which Gracie has confirmed in an interview with ETalk. This song in particular, you can hear a lot of Taylor Swift influence in the way Gracie structured her melody and in the shouty background vocals. The lyrics here are really deep and honest, and are about admitting that sometimes she can be the problem too.



us. (feat. Taylor Swift)


Track 5 is considered the epicenter of this album. I guess you could consider it the "title track", as Gracie has said that this is the song that sums up what the album means to her. "us." features Gracie's long-time idol and inspiration, Taylor Swift whom she opened for on Taylor's infamous Eras Tour. Gracie sat with Taylor in her New York City apartment in the early morning hours after a night of cosmos and wine, writing this song together at a piano, using their master lyricism skills to create this masterpiece of a song. Yes, this is the instance where they accidentally caught Taylor's kitchen on fire, if you've heard the news! "us." is a heavy, emotional, cenematic experience that is hard to explain. It's just something you need to hear to understand. Between the layering of the vocals, the poetic nature of the words, and the colorful, ethereal instrumentation, "us." has earned it's place as the theme song for "The Secret of Us". I almost feel like it could've been the closing track.



Let It Happen


"Let It Happen" seems to be about knowing someone probably isn't good for you, but you end up falling for them anyway. You find yourself changing things about yourself just to impress them, even though you know better. This song has Aaron Dessner writing all over it, with his signature guitar riffs and piano. The song slowly builds dynamically as the tension and emotions build as well. Gracie's lyrics stand at the forefront on this one, giving it a very folklore / evermore type of vibe. The chorus has an infectious melody so beware, because it will get stuck in your head.



Tough Love


Out of nowhere, "Tough Love" brings in some shock factor when it instantly starts with a speedy, electronic beat. It didn't take long for this to become one of my favorites. Gracie starts singing a quick, anxiety inducing 2 note melody and it's an experience that makes you want to both dance and cry. The lyrics are brutally honest, and Gracie is not holding back on anything she's feeling; and let's just say, this song has a BRIDGE with water rushing rapidly underneath.



I Knew It, I Know You


"I Knew It, I Know You" is filled with raw harmonies and acoustic guitar. As far as I know, this song is unrelated to "i miss you, i'm sorry" and 'I Love You, I'm Sorry", but it's title and wording makes me feel like it might be; especially when she sings the lyrics "I can't pretend that I'm sorry when I'm not sorry". It feels like way later on in the future, but this relationship still haunts and impacts her greatly. After the highly intense bridge, we get a tempo change that gives you a whole new listening experience but really adds to the emotion and depth of this song.



Gave You I Gave You I


"Gave You I Gave You I" is about when you give your all to someone just for them to treat you like you mean nothing to them. I'd say it's probably the most experimental song on this album when it comes to production and style. There's a consistent, dark tone that is occupied by synths but there's still moments of folk guitar. It manages to sound minimalistic, yet busy at the same time - like the cluster of anger and feelings Gracie sings about here. The lyrics are the star of show in this one, so be prepared to feel like you got stabbed in the heart.



Normal Thing


"Normal Thing" is a gorgeous, gentle song that features Gracie's classic, whispery vocals and stunning piano with strings. The song seems to be about literally falling in love with a movie star who doesn't even know who you are; or, figuratively speaking, comparing being in love with someone to being in love with a movie star; aka, they always look good in dark lighting, they'll make you cry by the end of the show, and you know that you'll see their face again even if you don't want to.



Good Luck Charlie


I know what you're thinking; is this song about the Disney show? I hate to burst your bubble, but it is not - and that has been confirmed by Gracie. However, the song "Good Luck Charlie" is a stunning, slow and emotional song about an ex of Gracie's best friend, Audrey. This song has a classic, almost vintage feel to it. This song is a message to all those men out there who are too afraid to stand up and do what they need to do in order to get back the love they lost. If you truly love someone, you'll do anything for them! So get out there, and prove yourself.



Free Now


The final track (other than the bonus track) is "Free Now", a song that takes a step towards a sound we've yet to hear on this album. It's very raw in it's instrumentation, very classic. It starts out slow, almost like you're sitting in a jazz club. Then it builds, and you realize that it's a rock song; and like most Gracie songs, it has lyrics that bite. However, after witnessing the heart break, you realize things are finally okay when Gracie expresses that "all I feel is free now". Everything she felt in the past has now been laid to rest, and we can thank Gracie for using music as her outlet for that because now we this amazing album.



Close To You


"Close To You" is considered a bonus track, but was released as a secondary single before the album release. It's the only song on the album where Aaron Dessner doesn't have any credits, but that's because it's a song Gracie originally had written when she was only 16. In fact, it was co-written with New Zealand producer, songwriter and musician Sam de Jong. It's topic seems closely related to "Risk", where you're catching feeling for someone that doesn't even know you but they ignite this deep desire in your heart and all you want to do is be near them. The soundscape of this song is absolute pop perfection and will no doubt get stuck in your head with it's extremely catchy, repetitive hook. The silly, laid back music video below features Gracie with her very best friend, roommate and collaborator, Audrey Hobert who you will see in the writing credits and hear in the background vocals throughout a big handful of songs on this album! Audrey also directed the "Risk" music video, her impressive directorial debut.



Let's face it guys, Gracie Abrams is no longer our hidden gem. The secret is out and Gracie is finally getting the exposure and attention she has always deserved. Specifically with "The Secret of Us", Gracie is experimenting with different styles and sounds that you wouldn't expect from her, but keeping her folk pop roots in hand. Her lyricism is maturing and becoming even stronger. She has found her musical soulmates with Aaron Dessner and Audrey Hobert; it's so clear that they were meant to work together and I couldn't see it being any other way. "The Secret of Us" is on it's way to being one of the best albums to be released this year, and Gracie deserves it!



Written By Kaitlyn Nicole



*copyright not intended. Fair use act, section 107.

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