Photo: Vince Aung
All throughout This Is What It Feels Like, Gracie Abrams brings her raw introspection to the most intimate of emotional experiences, including self-betrayal, insecurity, and painfully failed attempts at connection. True to her DIY roots, the 12-track record finds her taking a more significant role in the production process, working with The National’s Aaron Dessner, Joel Little, and her frequent collaborator Blake Slatkin to dream up each track’s minimalistic yet kaleidoscopic sound. Abrams also left her hometown of LA to write and record in such serene settings as the woods of Maine and Dessner’s Long Pond Studio in the Hudson Valley - a move that quickly brought greater clarity to her creative vision.
This Is What It Feels Like continues to explore the sonic and emotional territory heard on her previous project minor. The tone throughout is primarily cynical, but the vibe isn’t all negative. For example, the opener “Feels Like” finds Abrams in the throes of love and expresses that she “would do whatever you wanted/We don’t have to leave the apartment.” Listeners also can see Abrams broadening and slightly experimenting with a more rustic sound on “Rockland.” The track oozes with folky flavors that morph and blend with her gentle vocals and intricate guitar-picking, courtesy of Dessner.
Other tracks of note are the bright yet bleak, Haim-esque “The Bottom,” which examines Abrams’ self-awareness and self-loathing. She puts up her walls and warns the person trying to get close to her, “I’m going to drag you right down to the bottom” and “I’m happier when I’m sad.” Meanwhile, the poppy, “dance while you cry”-inducing, “For Real This Time,” and the soft, acoustic “Augusta” are also great examples of the aural growth and range Abrams has developed since minor.
Abrams is a name that has been popping up everywhere over the last year, and it’s easy to see why. Her smooth and soft vocals have a colorful, dreamy, imaginative element to them, making it a voice you can easily get lost in. In addition, her music elevates her organic, narrative-driven songwriting and passionate relatability.
Abrams recently announced a North American headlining tour for early 2022. Kicking off on February 2 in Salt Lake City, the 'This Is What It Feels Like tour' will continue through March 13 in Seattle. The 21-date tour will include stops in New York, Brooklyn, Chicago, Toronto, Nashville, and the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, with most dates already sold out.
Listen to This Is What It Feels Like below: