Track Review: Close To You // Gracie Abrams

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The year is 2017, and Gracie Abrams, a rather unknown name in the music industry at the time, posts a video of her candidly sitting at a piano singing a few lines from a slow, stripped-back song she’d written. Fans immediately fell in love. A year later, in 2018, Abrams shared a 20-second snippet of an upbeat and significantly more energetic demo of the same song. Fans were now begging for Abrams to release it, and so, the full version went from having no intention of seeing the light of day to being included as the final track on her forthcoming sophomore album The Secret of Us, out 21 June. Lucky for us, Abrams decided to give it to us early (or as she herself comically pointed out, “seven years late, actually”), and as of 7 June 2024, after much pleading and petitioning, ‘Close To You’ is finally ours. 

The track opens with a few seconds of a slightly ambient techno-sounding intro, followed by the first verse, which we initially heard in the 2017 clip of the song. It starts off the same: “I don’t got a single problem with provocative / I see the bodies, how they burn, it’s just the way it is,” but the second half of the verse–“But don’t you dare close your eyes, we’re not finished here / Cutting my power line (ooh) / Closer to homicide, talk me out of it”–has been switched out for “Smoky, dark, crowded room, I need nothing / Under pink light in June, (ah-ah-ah) / I was so cool, but then, all of a sudden / You saw me, look at you.” I must admit that I do miss the original lines, but perhaps the new ones more closely capture the song’s “complicated feelings of wanting to be close to someone who hardly notices her.”

While the first verse is sung in her lower register, with the delicate, whisper-like voice she is known and loved for, the beat comes in for the pre-chorus and stays throughout. Along with an uptempo beat, we also get to hear her using her full voice, which I’m hoping we will get to hear much more of in the new music. With Abrams hinting that her upcoming album will be more extroverted and, as she tells ELLE, fueled by the feeling of “when you run home to tell your best friend every detail of your night,” my wish may very likely come true. 

Unpacking the song further, the pre-chorus starts with the now Bridgerton-coded line “I burn for you,” combined with the frustration of “and you don’t even know my name.” As one fan commented on YouTube in response to that specific line: “realest.” Given that the comment has over 3K likes, I don’t think the commenter is alone in finding that a bit too relatable… The way she breathily sings “name,” and, pardon the gen Z in me, alters my brain chemistry in the best possible way. Meanwhile, the catchy chorus beat, paired with the lyrics “Close to you / Pull the trigger on the gun I gave you when we met / I wanna be close to you / Break my heart and start a fire, you got me over night / Just let me be,” will undoubtedly be stuck in your head after first listen. 

The track’s release was accompanied by a lyric video which perfectly encapsulates the colourful and satirically dramatic energy that ‘Close To You’ radiates. It is totally danceable and will, at least on my part, be on repeat and at full volume all summer long. If my positive response to Gracie Abrams’ new track has not yet been conveyed clearly enough, let me end by saying that the seven-year wait was well worth it. 

Words by Ella Nelson


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