One Foot In Front Of The Other
2021 • POP • WARNER
On her first mixtape, English singer Griff proves to be one of the biggest bets for the next few years, however, still showing that she needs a lot of work and polishing to get there.
English songwriter and singer Griff is another artist member of what we might call the “Taylor Swift Generation Club,” a group of young artists starting now that have the American singer as an artistic mirror. Along with her, we can mention Olivia Rodrigo, Conan Gray, Maisie Peters, NIKI, and others. All of these artists are taking the world by storm, with several of them breaking streaming records and others already winning awards long before they even released their first full-length album. And Griff is one of those, winning the Brits Rising Star Award in May and being one of the most promising artists in recent years. In her first mixtape, One Foot in Front of the Other, Griff proves to be one of the biggest bets for the next few years, however, still showing that she needs a lot of work and polishing to get there.
According to an interview she gave for The Line of Best Fit, One Foot in Front of the Other was written and recorded during quarantine. “It’s been weird making music in this time,” she said. She also said that she produced and wrote much of the songs herself, given the current situation in the music market regarding opportunities for women. “I heard a stat that 2% of music producers are women, and so it feels important that as a young female in the music industry I should empower myself and continue to properly do it,” she said. However, despite all this and the intention of One Foot In Front Of The Other to be a properly raw project, it sounds too raw at times, with its minimalist production sounding several times bland and unfinished, and her lyrics, aimed at overcoming an end, rarely touching on the situation of social isolation and pandemic. At the end of the day, just as One Foot, with its extremely catchy but unremarkable songs, captures just a piece of Griff’s quarantined life, it also captures only a small percentage of what she can actually do.
Most of the songs on One Foot In Front Of The Other are geared towards minimalist homemade pop, but it doesn’t quite follow trends that bedroom pop follows, like those that Clairo appropriated on her debut album, Immunity. Here, Griff follows electronic trends, almost like Charli XCX’s quarantine project, how i’m feeling now, but less ambitious and less well-produced. “Black Hole,” the track she featured at this year’s Brits Awards, is the best song on the album. Alongside soft and somewhat seductive knocks, she talks about the hole her ex left in her. She sings in the chorus as claps and snares mingle, “There’s a big black hole where my heart used to be/And I tried my best to fill it up with things I don’t need/It don’t work like that, no, it’s not easy/To fill this gap that you left in me.” Then, the title track of the album conveys the feeling of the opener but for a darker place, “Heart of Gold” appears with influences from Lorde and Charli XCX, and “Earl Gray Tea” presents itself as the most different track on the album, with she’s singing in front of a pop piano about a person who cares essentially about physical health and forgets about mental health. “How you gonna save me and you?/Yeah, you’re so scared of getting cancer,” she sings.
However, on the other hand, although this minimalist production is relatively fun, it gets boring over time, making the whole album sound relatively the same and sometimes even unfinished. Of course, you can’t take the merit of Griff from having made a large part of the album alone at home, however, you can’t help but think about it as it only shows a part of her talent. Look at “Remembering My Dreams,” where she sings about how the night tends to be the setting for your biggest fears, memories and despairs to come to fruition. Although not necessarily bad, it’s only forgettable after a while. In the same way, “Walk,” it’s relatively weak to close the record because it’s just another pop track that doesn’t give you the feeling of “I want more.” “Shade of Yellow,” on the other hand, stays in the mind longer, but not necessarily because of the good metaphor it creates in the track but rather because it has this weird chorus that constantly sounds like it’s a demo version or something at an early stage, which ended up killing the flow of the song in the end. However, these are the first steps towards a promising future.