Griff's 'One Foot in Front of the Other' Is an Emotional and Sonic Triumph
Photo: Warner Records
Hot off the heels of being crowned Rising Star at the 2021 Brit Awards, British singer-songwriter and producer Griff has released her first mixtape, One Foot in Front of the Other. Although it's not her debut project, it feels like an honorary introduction due to the new audience she's gained with the success of her breakout single, "Black Hole," and acknowledgement from massive artists such as Taylor Swift.
The mixtape covers a wide variety of topics and yet maintains a sense of cohesion both lyrically and sonically. The underlying sonic thread keeps the energy consistent, but there's a good amount of distance covered between the opening track, a vulnerable expression of desperation in the aftermath of heartbreak, and the optimistic closing track, "Walk". In fact, through its seven-track run Griff manages to tell a distinct story that highlights heartbreak, mortality, and, most importantly, healing.
Starting the project with "Black Hole," followed by the more positive but still hesitant titular track, Griff plants listeners into the headspace of someone with a broken heart who is desperately trying to start living life again. The lyric, "'Cause things just take longer to heal these days," holds a comforting, yet realistic, point of view on heartbreak and general loss, something that most people can relate to in some capacity in such a turbulent time. The production is vibrant and fresh, indicating a bright future ahead despite the painful, in-the-moment lyrical content.
The ensuing body of the mixtape feels like a restorative chapter. What makes it unique is that it also represents the natural regression of healing and second-guessing yourself as you gain momentum. "Shade Of Yellow" is a sweet ode to seeking out companionship that feels safe, while "Heart Of Gold" is an insecure moment of hesitation that anyone who believed they were fully healed from heartbreak can recognize. Mimicking each other in subtle ways, from the production to the lyricism, it feels like looking at two sides of the same coin.
Towards the end of the mixtape, Griff's attitude towards healing turns more existential. In "Remembering My Dreams," she details the phenomenon of going through periods of time where your dreams are more vivid. In "Earl Grey Tea," a self-written and produced piano ballad, Griff comes face to face with her own mortality and subsequently encourages listeners to do the same. It's a powerful moment of introspection that feels appropriately placed within the story.
The closing track, "Walk," is by far the most optimistic song on the album. Although "Black Hole" is also upbeat, the difference in weight between the opening and closing track is satisfyingly jarring. "Walk" is a heartfelt dedication to those who helped Griff get through the dark moments chronicled throughout the mixtape. Griff playfully begs the subject to accept her gratification with adorable lyrics like, "I'd give you my eyes so you can see what I do / And maybe you'd know it too." It's not often in heartbreak albums that so much focus is place on platonic love, so it's refreshing to have such a fun track to celebrate the people who are there for us when we need it the most.
For such a monumental project with more outside pressure than ever, One Foot in Front of the Other is a triumph. It's worth emphasizing that more than half of the tracks were self-written and produced by Griff herself. As an introduction for many, One Foot in Front of the Other is a brilliant showcasing of Griff's artistry and unique outlook on life's universal experiences. Better yet, this feels like only the beginning for one of the UK's most promising stars.
Listen to One Foot in Front of the Other below: