Hanna, who started putting out music in the late ’80s, has been noticing. “It’s a fascinating thing to watch these young women, and especially Olivia, because she seems to be so advanced as a songwriter, expressing themselves in these really complicated ways,” she said. She was heartened that Rodrigo spoke out about abortion rights onstage at Glastonbury after Roe v. Wade was overturned, and proud that she’s adapted “riot grrrl iconography” in her visuals: “That’s so great, to see this underground musical style being graphically referenced in the mainstream by a person who’s actually a music lover.”
Rodrigo said she’s “always loved rock music, and always wanted to find a way that I could make it feel like me, and make it feel feminine and still telling a story and having something to say that’s vulnerable and intimate.” She beamed, her eyes bright under light winged makeup, talking about how artists she admires are “using rock music, but they’re not trying to recreate a version of rock music that guys make.”
Her openness about her influences is striking considering such frankness has already come with risks: Taylor Swift and Paramore may have been inspirations on “Sour,” but after the album’s runaway success, those inspirations suddenly gained writing credits on two songs. Asked if she had caught Swift’s Eras Tour, Rodrigo was brief: “I haven’t yet,” she said, quickly adding that she’d been busy. “I’m going to Europe this week.”
In late July, she did get to a Tori Amos show with Annie Clark (who records as St. Vincent), a heroine who has become a mentor. “I’ve never met anyone so young and so effortlessly self-possessed,” Clark said in a phone interview. Rodrigo “knows who she is and what she wants — and doesn’t seem to be in any way afraid of voicing that. And just a really lovely girl too,” she added. “I’ve never heard her say a bad word about anyone.”
RODRIGO’S EX-BEAUS might disagree. Though she doesn’t name them, they are the subject of both passionate takedowns and lighthearted ribbing on “Guts.” Its first single, “Vampire,” is a suite that builds from ballad to bombast aimed at a man who abused her trust and fame; on the hilarious rap-rock banger (yes, really) “Get Him Back!,” she playfully spins the title phrase, seeking both revenge and reconciliation.