When feeling that late afternoon hunger, and in need of a warm carby hit, I make a grilled cheese. Buttered sourdough bread, mature cheddar, cream cheese, combined and placed in a scorching hot pan, cut into triangles (very important) and dipped in ketchup. Like Martha Hill, I too believe raw onions have no place on a sandwich. Unlike me, she has utilised this lockdown to significant effect and presents Grilled Cheese, the first single taken from her upcoming EP, Summer Up North. Recorded and produced entirely via Zoom, the song uses a sandwich to cleverly dissect a relationship and form the narrative for one of the catchiest tunes of the year.
The Newcastle-based singer-songwriter has had a triumphant last twelve months, filled with extensive national touring and shout outs from the BBC, and yet, Martha shows no sign of slowing down. It is undoubtedly a testament to her creativity and perseverance to have crafted an EP during the lockdown. Due to a living room studio set up, the song has a delightful indie and bedroom-pop vibe, which is welcomed and inherently full of intimate charm. This, however, does not detract from the ambitious sound that serves up a behemoth slice of alt-pop pie. Grilled Cheese focuses on Martha’s vocals, and rightly so. Her soulful, emotive and beautifully cracked delivery is a genuine pleasure, yet remains bouncy and fun despite the somewhat serious nature of the lyrics. It is difficult to make a track about a relationship falling apart that is still a joy to dance to. There’s an optimism for the two to improve themselves, which gives the whole affair an air of grandeur and hopefulness.
Throughout the song, the static guitar chugs along, creating a very delicate sounding experience that allows Martha’s vocals to shine. Soon accompanying is a battering drum beat, driving bass and smattering of piano leading into a chorus that opens Grilled Cheese up to greater heights with a dense and textured sound. The middle section is a stunning effort, with Martha pushing her delivery to convey a longing for things to get better. It demonstrates the skill and control she has over her voice and cements her as a dynamic and stirring powerhouse. The track accelerates from there with such lines as, “my baby messed me around / yeah she don’t love me any more”; while the music grows and grows until suddenly halting, leaving us wondering the fate of the depicted couple.
Grilled Cheese is indeed going for gold. It is a rousing and gripping alt-pop story of relationship troubles; full of vocal brilliance, lush instrumentation and hooks for days. Martha is undoubtedly worthy of the one to watch status. “And I know that for sure”.