Gracie Abrams Shows Us Just What It Feels Like

Up and coming indie artist Gracie Abrams brings listeners through the in and outs of growing up, anxiety, and heartbreak.

While Gracie Abrams has yet to release an album, she’s already accumulated over a million fans on Instagram.

Colleen Garrity

While Gracie Abrams has yet to release an album, she’s already accumulated over a million fans on Instagram.

Gracie Abrams titled her album “This Is What It Feels Like,” and she wasn’t lying. From her experience with heartbreak and anxiety, Abrams has cultivated a raw and authentic music style that few artists are able to truly achieve. Every carefully crafted lyric describes exactly what it feels like, whether it be missing a lover or the fear of growing up. Abrams began journaling at the age of 8, and wrote her first song the same year. The indie pop artist has currently released two EPs, and is working on her first album, all of which has been recorded at Long Pond Studio in New York. Most of her discography consists of songs on the slower side, usually produced with light instrumentation and a contrasting beat, and always written like a page from her diary. 

Camden,” a fan favorite, delves into her issues with self-image and insecurity, beginning with the brutally honest lines “I never said it, but I know that I / Can’t picture anything past 25.” The line is especially relatable to teens today, who are pressured to grow up at an increasingly rapid pace, but rarely know what they themselves want out of their lives. Our lives often revolve around our education and careers, but once we’re out of college, we’re just as lost as we were before. 

Abrams’s latest single, “Block me out,” also depicts her battle with anxiety. “I’ve been thinkin’ way too loud / I wish that I could block me out,” she writes in the chorus, describing the struggles of mental illness, an invisible war, as opposed to the visible symptoms of physical illness. While many people tend to sympathize with those diagnosed with physical illnesses, mental disorders are still extremely controversial and tend to have a lot of stigma surrounding them, making it difficult for those suffering from them to get the support they need. Like Abrams says, they’re “burnin’ alive, but nobody sees the fire.”

Abrams performing a piano ballad for her This is What It Feels Like tour in San Francisco. (Katelin Richardson / @katelinrichardsonphotography on Instagram)

Abrams is also known for her heartbreak ballads. “21,” one of her most popular songs, describes the aftermath of a relationship, implying that though she’s the one that broke off the relationship, she still misses her ex-boyfriend and hates to think of him as “happy” without her. She writes about her relationship in a fiercely honest way, depicting herself as the one at fault, yet not in a self-pitying way, something many young artists have yet to do. 

Unlearn,” a collaboration with Benny Blanco, also paints Abrams as the problem in the relationship, with her claiming that “If I’m gonna learn how to love you / I need to unlearn how to love too / Need to unlearn how to run when it feels right.” In doing so, she highlights the difficulties of relationships, and rather than framing them as small speed bumps, as many artists do, she focuses on how much a toxic past or mindset can affect a good relationship, despite both parties wanting it to work. Though cliche in many contexts, the phrase “love isn’t always enough” seems to be a recurring theme in Abrams’s writing. 

Abrams performing her song ‘This is What It Feels Like’ in sunglasses given to her by fans. She often incorporates some of their gifts (sunglasses, funky headbands, or pride flags) into her outfits for the night. (Colleen Garrity)

Growing up, too, seems to be a motif in her songs. In “Alright,” the last song on her latest EP, she laments “What if I never move out? / I’d live in the basement my whole life / I got the chills when I said that / I never thought of a fallback.” Once again, Abrams expresses a familiar teenage anxiety: never amounting to anything. One fan describes it as “exactly like their journal.” Getting older is always a scary thing, and in the United States, teens are often expected to decide their future at 16 or 17, a considerably young age in the grand scheme of things. Often teens are still figuring themselves out, and choosing a career for what seems to be the rest of our lives can seem daunting, especially if the wrong decision can be life-changing. As always, Abrams encapsulates this feeling exactly, emphasizing just how well chosen the EP title was. 

Abrams is currently headlining her own tour for “This Is What It Feels Like,” only a few weeks after opening for Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour Tour. The two artists appear to be close, getting matching scooters to travel around backstage and facetiming each other even after their time together on tour has ended. Though Abrams has yet to finish her tour in Europe, she has already told fans she will be doing another North American tour in the coming year, suggesting that her first album will be released before then. No matter when it’s released, however, one thing is clear — no matter what Gracie Abrams pens next, she will always be able to show us that this is what it feels like. 

“What if I never move out? / I’d live in the basement my whole life / I got the chills when I said that / I never thought of a fallback.”