Singer–songwriter Gracie Abrams released her first EP, minor, during July 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. From her bedroom, she was able to reach listeners through her melancholic songwriting and soft vocals. The EP was accepted by Abrams’ fans with open arms. It was a product of its time, an intimate and nostalgic project that allowed teenagers in quarantine to long for a better time. As a whole, the project is special because of how utterly personal and relatable it is. Now, as the air turns chilly and the leaves signify the arrival of fall, Abrams’ music becomes a perfect companion for the season.
minor is about heartbreak. Whether or not the listener has been through anguish in the aftermath of a long–term relationship like Abrams has, her feelings resonate and allow the listener to make the EP their own. Abrams worked with a number of collaborators for the project. Most notable, however, is the participation of producer Blake Slatkin—the inspiration for minor. The EP was written during a break in the couple’s five–year–long relationship. Her openness to work with him for this project further signifies Abrams’ willingness to express her vulnerability through music.
She recently talked about minor and her upcoming music in a press conference with Universal Music Group. “[minor] was definitely a product of exactly where I was at at the time. Having gone through the only real breakup in my life and just feeling everything that comes with that and writing about it in a very typically–private way …” she says. “minor was very much coming of age, just like coming into myself.”
Throughout the EP, Abrams doesn’t shy away from expressing the sheer honesty of her feelings. In most of the songs, she speaks directly to her ex. The lyrics tell the story of two people: Abrams and an unnamed “you.”
In “I miss you, I’m sorry,” she mourns her relationship while continuing to acknowledge its toxic traits. Abrams says, “I still love you, I promise” as she remembers fights with her ex, “breaking dishes when [he’s] disappointed.” Even in one of the most upbeat songs on the list, “21,” she paints a picture of a twenty–first birthday tainted by heartbreak.
Listening to the album feels like a bonding experience, as if she’s trusting you with her intimate thoughts and feelings. It’s like reading through her diary—and it basically is. Abrams has identified journaling as a central component to her songwriting, assuring that her songs are a genuine window into her experiences. More than a major step in her songwriting process, journaling is one of the ways Abrams fell in love with composing.
“I just can’t imagine myself as a kid just randomly falling into songwriting had I not been journaling … ever since before I could read my handwriting back … In the best way, it just felt so private and something that was completely my own … I felt so amped to have discovered this sacred space in my journal,” Abrams says. “Journaling has been the most direct thread through my songwriting, the way that I journal is basically the same way that I write songs.”
In addition to the vulnerability of the lyrics, the way she shared her work with fans contributed to the personal nature of the album. On the day of minor’s release, Abrams announced a series of “Bedroom Shows”—an iteration of an online pandemic concert. These concerts invited fans to join a Zoom session while she played through the songs on the EP.
The shows were based on specific cities—Los Angeles, New York, London, Chicago, Berlin, and Sydney—to allow fans from the same regions to join in the experience together. I had the opportunity to attend a meet and greet before one of the shows. I expected nothing but a short question and answer session followed by the performance, but was surprised to find that the experience was more like joining a “Zoom party” with people I knew. It was casual and fun, like catching up with an old friend.
When the performance began, I was surprised by how much it felt like watching a real concert rather than simply watching a recorded session. Abrams sang from her bedroom, accompanied only by her piano. Throughout the show, attendees could keep their cameras on to see and interact with each other, even having the opportunity to talk to Abrams for a couple of minutes at the end.
The Bedroom Shows were a perfect opportunity for her to share minor with fans. As COVID–19 restrictions eased, however, she finally had the opportunity to see listeners in person through her tour I’ve missed you, I’m sorry. Even through these in–person shows, Abrams has maintained the intimate setting she established through her Zoom concerts.
“Being on tour honestly has taught me a lot about the reception of my music … I just hope that people feel like it’s a space where they can also be honest and vulnerable about the way that they’re feeling,” Abrams shares. “And I think having recently been playing in rooms where there are actually people that are responding to the songs and lyrics, it’s been massively inspiring.” Although she just started touring minor, Abrams is releasing new projects, and the comforting nature of her songs has definitely carried through.
Since March 2021, Abrams has released “Unlearn” with Benny Blanco, “Brush Fire,” “Mess It Up,” and most recently, “Feels Like.” Her new music continues to explore topics relating to relationships and heartbreak. Nonetheless, her sound is evolving in that it’s becoming more introspective. Rather than recounting her experiences, Abrams delves deeper into how everything has affected her and her role in the relationships about which she sings. In the process of writing for her upcoming album, Abrams reflects about the changing role of intimacy in her lyrics. Her new releases promise to continue being personal and honest—even if brutally so.
“[minor] was a project about a relationship, my relationship to somebody else, and I think the music I’ve been writing more recently has been much more of a self–reflection and about a relationship to myself which has been a different kind of interesting journey.” Through new releases, Abrams’ music continues to be relatable and intimate. These songs are the perfect addition to a fall playlist, ideal to listen to while cozying up to a blanket with a warm drink in hand.