The GRAMMY Museum is thrilled to welcome Gracie Abrams with special guest Aaron Dessner to the Museum’s Clive Davis Theater for an evening including a conversation about the making of the album.
ABOUT GRACIE ABRAMS:
For Gracie Abrams, writing songs is a matter of stripping away all artifice and getting to the raw truth of her experience: her desires and infatuations, missteps and small triumphs. In the making of her debut album Good Riddance, the 23-year-old artist deliberately slipped into a secluded creative environment for the sake of magnifying her music’s lived-in intimacy—a carefully honed quality that’s won her a devoted following and recently led to such milestones as opening for Taylor Swift on her blockbuster Eras Tour. Created in close collaboration with The National’s Aaron Dessner (her sole producer/co-writer on the album), Good Riddance ultimately documents a particularly painful and transformative period in Abrams’s life, imbuing every track with an unvarnished honesty that’s equal parts captivating and cathartic.
The follow-up to This Is What It Feels Like (a 2021 project made with the likes of longtime Lorde collaborator Joel Little), Good Riddance came to life in a series of free-flowing sessions at Long Pond Studio (the Hudson Valley homebase for Dessner, whose production discography includes his GRAMMY® -winning work on Taylor Swift’s folklore). Praising Good Riddance as “one of 2023’s best debuts,” Rolling Stone stated that the album “shows a serious command of autobiographical songwriting” and hailed Abrams as “one of pop’s buzziest young artists” including Good Riddance on their mid-year “Best Of” list.
Over the course of its 12 soul-baring songs, Good Riddance affirms Abrams as a songwriter wholly unafraid of revealing her messiest emotions. Naming Joni Mitchell as an essential influence, Abrams first started penning her own songs at age eight and later made her debut with the 2019 single “Mean It,” quickly amassing a devoted following on the strength of her emotionally intimate lyrics and DIY sensibilities. Not long after delivering her debut project minor, she began bringing her spellbinding live show to venues throughout the U.S. and Europe, in addition to playing festivals like Austin City Limits, touring with Olivia Rodrigo, and opening for Phoebe Bridgers. Upon release of Good Riddance Abrams set out on a sold-out North American headline tour and recently wrapped supporting Taylor Swift on over 30 select dates of her blockbuster Eras Tour. Abrams released a deluxe version of her debut album featuring four additional songs in June.
ABOUT AARON DESSNER:
As a founding member of The National, musician / producer / songwriter Aaron Dessner has been the steady hand that’s guided the group out of the early-2000s Brooklyn indie-rock scene and onto the world’s most prestigious stages. Over the past two decades, Dessner’s band has landed four albums in the Top 5 of the Billboard 200 chart; won the GRAMMY® Award for Best Alternative Music Album (for 2017’s Sleep Well Beast); and earned the adoration of everyone from Bruce Springsteen to President Barack Obama. And as The National became more and more popular, Dessner sharpened his experimental instincts through side projects like Big Red Machine, his ongoing collaboration with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. For most musicians, all those achievements would amount to a Hall of Fame-worthy career. But for Dessner, they constitute the mere warm-up to a stunning second act in which he’s emerged as one of the most sought-after and influential producers in modern pop music. As Taylor Swift’s chief songwriting partner for her pandemic-era double shot of folklore (2020) and evermore (2021), Dessner helped steer the most famous pop star on the planet toward her most sonically adventurous and lyrically vulnerable work to date, taking home the Album of the Year GRAMMY® for the former record and earning another nomination in that category for the latter.
Since then, Dessner’s sophisticated mix of gentle piano melodies, neoclassical arrangements, and percolating electronics has practically become a genre unto itself. On top of co-writing and co-producing a handful of tracks (“The Great War,” “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve,” “Hits Different”) for Swift’s 2022 Midnights album series and serving as a featured guest on her epic Eras tour, Dessner also engineered another dramatic pop-star pivot with Ed Sheeran’s 2023 smash, -, whose flagship singles “Boat” and “Curtains” bare Dessner’s trademark combination of raw emotion and otherworldly texture. But even as he’s become firmly ensconced in pop music’s highest echelons, Dessner continues to elevate the next generation of indie auteurs, by crafting two mesmerizing tracks (“I know it won’t work,” “Where do we go now?”) for L.A. singer/songwriter Gracie Abrams’ 2023 debut, Good Riddance; enriching the dream-folk atmosphere of Norwegian sensation girl in red’s “October Passed Me By”; and striking the perfect balance of grit and grace on Australian raconteur Indigo Sparke’s heavenly hymn “Pressure in My Chest.” All the while, Dessner’s production continues to lead The National to new creative heights: after the group communed with their friend Bon Iver for 2022’s divine electro-soul single “Weird Goodbyes (featuring: Bon Iver),” The National’s ninth album, 2023’s First Two Pages of Frankenstein, yielded highlights like the suave new wave number “Tropic Morning News” and majestic mid-album ballad “The Alcott (featuring: Taylor Swift),” where the rough edges of lead singer Matt Berninger’s voice are effectively sanded away by guest Taylor Swift’s soothing harmonies. From the top of the pops to the depths of the underground, this year, the Aaron Dessner touch could be felt everywhere.