Talent is a remarkable thing. When you see it, you recognize it almost instantaneously, and it becomes nearly blinding to any of the other faults surrounding that artist. On the debut full-length LP from Maggie Rogers, her talent oozes through the speakers with rare confidence not usually found from a new artist. Heard it in a Past Life is a remarkable introduction to an artist who is 100% comfortable in her skin and knows exactly the type of music she wants to create.
When Maggie Rogers first introduced herself to the music world with the single “Alaska,” she wowed audiences far and wide with her soulful voice and polished sound. The track itself has been streamed over 100 million times and continues to be a strong indication of what this artist is capable of.
Heard it in a Past Life kicks off with “Give a Little,” which is a dancehall worthy song with some great lyrics surrounding the catchy moments. Rogers sings on the second verse, “If you would open up your heart/Drop your weapons, drop your guard/Just a little trust is all it takes/Oh, I know that you’ve been around/But hear me now, I’m crying out/Let me be the light upon the lake.” While these lyrics were most likely written for a love interest in her life, in some ways, it seems like Rogers is speaking directly to her audience to embrace her music and accept her for who she is. The dual meanings in her music showcase her staying power as an ultra-talented singer and songwriter.
The self-reflective side of Rogers comes out in “Overnight” where she wonders what she could have done differently in a relationship that appears to be falling apart. The production allows for Rogers’ voice to take center stage, as it should since she has all the musical chops you would want from a singer. The following track, “The Knife,” brings some cool sounds and beats to the mix that presents Rogers as a powerful pop artist with plenty of soul. It certainly doesn’t hurt when the songs feature some of the better lyrics you can find from a new artist. “Oh, the knife of insight brought me to my knees/Broke me down and taught me how to see/And I know, and I know, and I know/That maybe we should take some time, get this out, make this right/Maybe when the sun goes down, come ’round, tell you all about/When the knife of insight brought me to my knees.” It’s hard not to believe Rogers as she sings directly from her heart.
The current single and one of the most memorable moments from the record, “Light On,” demonstrates the incredible storytelling aspect of Rogers’ songs as well as her pop sensibilities that lift her music to incredible heights. From her breathy vocals in the verses to her powerful vocal prowess and delivery in the choruses, everything clicks brilliantly on this song.
The record continues to unfold beautifully in the next song and ballad, “Past Life,” where Rogers sings in the final notes, “Oh, maybe there’s a past life comin’ out inside of me/Maybe it’s the song I’m singing’/Maybe everything’s just turnin’ out how it should be/Maybe there’s a past life comin’ out inside of me/Oh, maybe there’s a past life comin’ out inside, inside of me.” It’s almost as if Rogers continues to evolve as the album plays out and she takes the listener for quite the journey through her thoughts and emotions. She is more than capable of keeping her audience’s attention throughout this debut with several engaging songs with great depth.
“On + Off” features some great piano and synth element loops in the beginning while breaking away for Rogers to let her soulful side come through on the chorus. Her biggest hit to date, “Fallingwater,” follows this song in just the right sequencing in the album as it delivers a surefire moment in the latter half of the LP that allows Rogers to layer her vocals beautifully. The song showcases just how powerful Roger’s voice can be with very little instrumentation around it. The piano and her voice complement each other dynamically and prove that simplicity in the song structure can also be just as powerful as an asset.
“Retrograde” brings the full band back into the mix and presents the perfect opportunity for Rogers to establish herself as an artist that isn’t afraid to dance a bit while she tells her story. When she sings, “Here I am/Settled in/At your house/Broken blinds keep the light coming out/And I am just the shape I’m in,” it’s nearly impossible not to believe every word she says as we live it with her.
The closing duo of songs “Burning” and “Back In My Body” serve as a great reminder of Maggie Rogers’ beautiful soul and spirit that she presents throughout the record. It would be tough to not root for her sustained success in her career after this set of songs hits all the right notes at just the right moments. I have a feeling that this will be a remarkable year for Rogers as the accolades and awards should follow her wherever she goes. Talented doesn’t even begin to describe the work of art that Maggie Rogers has put forth on her fantastic debut. As bad as the world is around us, I feel a little bit better knowing that artists like this can still exist as our silver lining and a sense of hope.