ALBUM RELEASE: Maggie Rogers – ‘Heard It In A Past Life’
WORDS BY MWIKA BULAYA
Heard It In A Past Life is a piece of a reflection written, arranged and co-produced by Maryland native, Maggie Rogers. The debut album from the 24-year-old presents itself as a collection some of life’s uncertainties: love, anxiety and self-image.
The opening single Give A Little does exactly that – not too much is given, to begin with, creating a sense of curiosity of what is to come. Rogers eases us into the project with this song as her effortless vocals are layered with harmonies accompanied by a slightly electronic feel. Within the 12-track album, Maggie Rogers reveals so much of herself and her experiences which is not so common within debut projects. We slowly begin to learn about her feelings towards entering the music industry in songs such as Overnight and Light On. Both are incredibly candid accounts of Rogers’ journey so far and how her new found fame and success has affected her.
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An honourable mention must be given to the single Alaska that put Rogers on the map when it was first heard in 2016. This song caught the attention of music mogul Pharrell Williams when he heard the track during a masterclass he held at NYU, the university that Rogers attended. Inspired by a real-life hiking experience in Alaska, Rogers accounts a time where she took a year long break from music and learned more about herself. Self-discovery becomes a repetitive premise as the album goes on.
Much of the project feels as though the same template was used to begin with and then branched out into versions of a similar sound. Rogers often uses distinctive folk accents as well as the experimental use of electronic beats which shouldn’t work but somehow it does. One thing that can be taken from Heard It In A Past Life is that Maggie Rogers knows how to write a relatable love song. In Say It, Rogers sings about a crush that is quickly turning into something more than that – it’s almost becoming an infatuation, this is suggested by the lyrics: “I cannot fall in love with you / I cannot feel this way so soon.” A feeling that many of us have had.
Past Life is arguably the most vulnerable of all the tracks on the album. Rogers presents a heart-wrenching piece that is stripped back to reveal her haunting vocals. It is a truly special song hidden between two powerful vocal performances in the track list. Here, she reflects on what life once was before her success.
The album closes with the song Back In My Body and is a near-perfect ending. The uplifting track is about returning to your true self after going through periods of hardships that she experienced whilst touring. It is simple yet effective song about finally being grounded. Heard It In A Past Life is a beautiful and honest album – Maggie Rogers is definitely one to watch this year.