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Gracie Abrams and Taylor Swift’s Tortured Duet, and 8 More New Songs



The title of the singer-songwriter Gracie Abrams’s second album, “The Secret of Us,” comes from this feverish duet with her friend and onetime tour mate Taylor Swift. “If history’s clear, someone always ends up in ruins,” Abrams, 24, sings breathily through a thicket of fingerpicked notes, the signature sound of her and Swift’s mutual collaborator Aaron Dessner, who co-produced the track with Jack Antonoff. (Dessner’s band the National gets a shout out toward the end of the song, when Abrams sings of being “mistaken for strangers.”) Midway through, the wise elder Swift swoops in to put Abrams’s youthful heartbreak in perspective. Mavis Staples preaches self-affirmation in “Worthy”: “When they try to kick you, don’t let yourself get down,” she urges. Written and produced by a team including Amanda Warner, a.k.a. MNDR, “Worthy” has Staples bouncing her inimitably husky voice against a soul horn section and a funk beat that heads toward James Brown territory, with just a few electronic tweaks to place the song in the 21st century. JON PARELES

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