“The last time Olivia Rodrigo performed a Tiny Desk concert, it was two years ago, in a deserted DMV office, back when pandemic precautions meant artists sadly couldn’t play the real Desk. But this year, the singer-songwriter returned, bringing a handful of songs from her wildly fun sophomore album to the NPR Music office. “It’s much cooler to be here,” Rodrigo says. “I was saying earlier, I’ve never been starstruck by a room before.”

Many of the songs on GUTS, which earned a special recommendation on NPR Music’s Best Albums of 2023 list, blow out Rodrigo’s sound into colorful, grungy pop-rock fit for a stadium, like “love is embarrassing,” performed here with Rodrigo on jangly acoustic guitar. But the artist builds her set out with GUTS cuts that fit the intimate setup, like the searing “vampire,” her backup vocalists cooing eerily around each of her lines, or the potent ode to female jealousy, “lacy,” which Rodrigo explains started out as a poetry exercise in a college class. By the end of her set, she’s completely alone at the piano for the sobering “making the bed,” and it’s not difficult to see why she’s one of pop’s most promising rising performers.”



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