Griff’s latest single, ‘One Foot in Front of the Other’, is a bit of an anomaly in the pop sphere. The delicious cut, stuffed with euphoric hooks and sparkling production, was solely performed, written and produced by the 20-year-old rising star. No co-writers or co-producers, the song was crafted in its entirely by the young talent.
It’s something that Griff didn’t even realise was unusual in the early days of her career. “I don’t think I realised I was even producing my own music when I started,” she told NME earlier this month, adding: “It was only when I took meetings with record labels they’d say that the big selling point was that I had written and produced my own songs”.
This ownership over her own work is evident in all of Griff’s creative output – she even made her own outfit for her BRIT Awards performance last month – and that continues throughout her excellent new mixtape ‘One Foot in Front of the Other’, where Griff only works with a handful of collaborators. A glittering collection of effervescent pop songs, it sees her couple radio-ready hooks with Griff’s direct lyricism: from killer singles (the other wordly ‘Blackhole’) to introspective slowburners (‘Earl Grey’), Griff has created her own world of pop supremacy, one in which she creates the rules and calls the shots.
Over her debut mixtape’s seven songs she tackles fracturing relationships (‘Black Hole’), how one person can feel like home (‘Shade of Yellow’) and celebrates somebody who doesn’t know how great they really are (‘Walk’). The lyrics to each are honest and specific to Griff’s experiences, but offered in a way to encourage listeners to find their own resonance.
Take the poignant ‘Earl Grey Tea’, a slick amalgam of ticking production, piano chords and striking layered vocals, that sees Griff begin: “You’re so scared you’re ageing faster/so you drink Earl Grey tea because you heard that’s the answer”. The lyrics were initially formulated in response to something specific – Griff’s father, who changed his diet as he was afraid of becoming unwell, focusing his energy on these nutritional changes instead of his relationships – but they have a broader meaning too. As Griff continues with the affecting couplet: “And you’re so scared of dying slowly/But why aren’t you more scared of dying lonely”, it’s a reminder to not let relationships drift away while you focus energies on something else.
These observations are accompanied by vibrant instrumentals: ‘Walk’ channels ‘1989’-era Taylor Swift, ‘Heart of Gold’ couples woozy production with sharp percussion and the belting ‘Black Hole’ is in a bombastic league of its own – perhaps one of 2021’s best singles thus far.
Griff performed the latter at this year’s BRIT Awards – where she took home the trophy for Rising Star – and it was a standout moment of the bash. If the masterful performance tipped Griff as Britain’s next great pop star, then ‘One Foot in Front of the Other’ cements the accolade – Griff has got the golden touch right now.
- Release date: June 18
- Record label: Warner