REVIEW: Olivia Rodrigo spills her ‘GUTS’ with five new songs

Olivia Rodrigo performs at The Theatre at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles on Oct. 9, 2023. Photo credit: Justin Higuchi via Wikimedia Commons

Olivia Rodrigo announced the deluxe version of her hit album “GUTS” at her Chicago tour stop on March 19. During her performance of “Get Him Back!” Rodrigo paused dramatically between the song’s chorus and second verse, unfolding a sign that read “GUTS deluxe out Friday.” The set was released on March 22.

The deluxe edition, titled “GUTS (spilled)” contains five added songs, including a brand new version “So American,” which was recorded after “GUTS” was released. Rodrigo spread the other four songs, the secret tracks, across rare vinyl releases: “Obsessed,” “Girl I’ve Always Been,” “Scared of My Guitar” and “Stranger.”

“GUTS,” the follow-up to her 2021 debut album “SOUR,” came out on September 8, 2023. The album led Rodrigo to receive Grammy nominations for Album of the Year and Song of the Year for lead single “Vampire,” though she did not win in any of the categories.

Fans anticipated the additions to her album to match the dynamic of the original songs, but Rodrigo captures a different vibe in the new tracks. Intertwining hints of country — less characteristic of her largely pop-punk music — she sings about topics like self-growth.

In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, Rodrigo spoke about the message she hoped to convey in “GUTS.”

“This album encapsulates growing up and figuring yourself out in the world, and the awkwardness of that,” she said.

“Obsessed” was written by Rodrigo alongside Annie Clark and music producer Dan Nigro. It was on the set list of her ongoing tour and subsequently is categorized as a single.

The song speaks about a girlfriend becoming consumed with her partner’s ex. It has a soft melody when describing all the details she’s discovered. With the words “I can’t help it baby,” it transitions to shouting as drums and electric guitar become more pronounced. This matches other tracks on “GUTS” such as “Bad Idea, Right?” which exhibit pop rock energy.

“Girl I’ve Always Been” talks about how she faces claims for behaving inconsistently, despite preserving a consistent attitude towards those who betray her. This song has country undertones, a style of music that Rodrigo has not been heavily used. Though this form is less typical of her, it seems on brand with the experimental music found on “GUTS.”

“Scared of My Guitar” is a slow, peaceful ballad. In this song, Rodrigo speaks of her songwriting process and becoming an artist, depicting the duality of her comfortability and anxiousness with her music.

Though Rodrigo’s songs have generally been about past relationships and break-ups, “GUTS” is about self-discovery. As she broadens her song topics, Rodrigo finds more of her artistic self.

“Stranger” is a nostalgic folk melody. Rodrigo sings about memories, about what her life had been and how it’s changed. She acknowledges that her past relationships are over and that she now feels like her whole self again.

“So American” is Rodrigo’s first love song on the deluxe version. She sings about the guy she has fallen in love with and her relationship with him. It has steady beats, reminiscent of rock like many of her other tracks in this album.

The deluxe version of “GUTS” widens the landscape of her music while keeping it in theme with the original music. Though all the songs are spread across various genres, they connect through an underlying message of Rodrigo’s self-exploration and finding herself through her music.