'Risk' Single Review: Gracie Abrams is Back

Los Angeles native singer-songwriter Gracie Abrams released “Risk” on May 1, over a year since she last had new music.

Abrams initially gained traction in 2020 with her honest and personal songwriting, showcased on her EPs (minor, This Is What It Feels Like) and singles such as “Stay” and “Mess It Up.” Since then, she has performed as an opener for Olivia Rodrigo’s SOUR Tour and released her debut album Good Riddance. The album had a North American headline tour that sold out in less than an hour. Abrams was also an opener for Taylor Swift’s highly coveted Eras Tour in 2023 and will return to the tour when it comes back to North America at the end of this year.

“Risk” marks a shift away from the mellow sounds that Abrams has become known for. When she sings, her voice is breathy and almost sounds like a whisper. In an era where much pop music is unremarkably overproduced, Abrams’ voice conveys the authenticity of the lyrics she writes. Her earlier work, reminiscent of Phoebe Bridgers and Lorde, is characterized by those airy vocals and a melancholic aesthetic. For instance, Good Riddance is permeated by a haze of subdued acoustic guitar and lo-fi synth production. In comparison, “Risk” is more brisk and vibrant. Speaking to SPIN magazine about the track, Abrams says it was inspired by “the mania before you actually even know someone, where you get it all sick and twisted in your head and feel like you have a fever and can’t control your body and mind.”

Co-written with Abrams’ childhood best friend, Audrey Hobert, “Risk” does not disappoint in displaying Abrams’ knack for writing emotionally charged lyrics. The song describes the excitement of having a crush on someone new, then the subsequent thrill of falling too fast for a fantasy—“God, I’m actually invested / Haven’t even met him.” To describe the state of being infatuated, Abrams sings the poignant lines “And I wake up / In the middle of the night / With the light on / And I feel like I could die.”

The music video for “Risk,” directed by Hobert and released alongside the song, dramatically portrays how attraction can feel. In the video, Abrams is lovestruck and fervently chases her crush down a dark, empty street, among other impassioned actions.

“Risk” continues Abrams’ streak of intimate and candid songs. The song will be the lead single for her upcoming sophomore album The Secret of Us, due to come out on June 21.

Album cover for The Secret of Us, showing a headshot of Gracie Abrams looking to the side in thought