Gracie Abrams – Cedar

There is an ethereal quality to Gracie Abrams that keeps both her fans and the music industry enthralled with the American singer-songwriter. At just 24 years of age, the young artist has already proved she can hold a theater at rapt attention as well as her own on a stadium stage–thanks to Taylor Swift. Since her stint as one of the many artists to fill the opening slot on “The Eras Tour,” Gracie’s legions of devoted fans have doubled in size. Yet, her music remains as intimate as ever. Her newest release, “Cedar,” part of Apple TV+’s The Buccaneers’ soundtrack, drives this home.

While it is not part of a personal body of work, “Cedar” is still a brilliant case study of the vulnerable, raw writing for which Abrams has become known. Every line feels as though it was cleaved from the lyricist’s soul and meant solely for the ears of the person currently listening while somehow simultaneously being about an experience that that same listener is only just remembering they had. In “Cedar,” the tale is of an on-again-off-again relationship, revealed bit by bit so that the audience cannot help but route for the sonically created couple. Their repetitive pattern is symbolized in the oft-repeated lyric: “I forget you aren’t mine.” Sadly, like in many of Gracie’s songs, the love is lost by the end of the story. In one swift yet subtle gut-punching line (the Abrams’ specialty), it is revealed that years have passed between bridge and verse: “It’s been weird to miss you / Hits me at the strangest times / Seven years would cut through / Other people like a knife.”

It will come as no surprise to those familiar with Gracie Abrams’s quickly growing body of work that “Cedar” was co-written with Andy Dessner, a co-writer and producer on Gracie’s debut album, Good Riddance. The founding member of the American rock band The National and half of the indie rock duo Big Red Machine brings out the best in the young songstress. Joining forces once more, they have penned a track that is not only heartbreaking lyrically but melodically as well. The piano-led ballad follows a syncopated and cylindrical pattern, underscoring the ill-fitting and recurring relationship, building as its participants grow further and further apart. Eventually, it ends as it begins: with the protagonist alone.

A few days after “Cedar’s” release, Gracie became a Best New Artist Grammy Nominee, a title she accepted with the humility and grace that often floats to the surface in various filmed fan interactions and interviews. While she may have a soul made for music, it is clear she also has a heart for people. Video after video can be found on TikTok of the musician catering to fan requests during her soundchecks or shows and taking the time to hear the reasons why a specific track has resonated with the singled-out member of her fanbase.

Both “Cedar” and Gracie’s well-deserved nomination prove that whether she wins or not, she is an incredible lyricist and songwriter. With her vocal talent to match and her gentle and endearing personality, she is slated to be one the most significant artists of her generation. If Good Riddance and “Cedar” are the kinds of songs she pens as a fresh face in the industry, one can only wonder what she will create once she has a few years of experience to guide her.