Maggie Rogers shot to fame in 2016, after being discovered by Pharrell
Williams during a master class listening session at NYU. She instantly became a viral sensation with her first hit, “Alaska”, although, until recently her fame had somewhat fizzled out. Today she released her first full length album, Heard it in a Past Life. In promotion of this album, her fame has reached new heights. Over past few months she has had various public appearances including The Ellen Show and even a spot as the musical guest on SNL. Heard it in a Past Life is a mesmerizing and dramatic album perfect to fill the post Lorde and Mistki gaps that every “indie” kid has. I find there to be no “filler” songs on this album. Each and every song has its own sort of magic and beauty to it. For this reason I have decided to give a breakdown of each song in order of their placement on the album.
Rogers opens her album with “Give a Little,” a song about empathy and creating a clean slate. She wants to reintroduce herself the world and her listeners. Its a beautiful and hopeful song about getting through dark times emphasizing that if everyone just “gives a little” kindness and trust maybe the world would be a brighter place.
Much of this album is very self-reflective. In the second track, “Overnight,” Rogers reflects on her personal journey and changes. She reveals her universal desires of being able to talk to her past self and tell her about how different and better life is now. Her next track, “The Knife,” is a little less cheerful. She reflects on the way that the dark thoughts of the night always brings new revelations. She creates an extended metaphor between a knife and new insight stating: “The knife of insight tore its way in me
a brash collision without sympathy.” Although this seems as if it would be a depressing song, Rogers finds beauty in the raw emotions she feels at night and the way “it all pours out.”
The next song on her album, is the hit that brought her to stardom, “Alaska.” With a style somewhere between folk and dance, it encompasses her hiking trip through Alaska. Her trip to Alaska gave her a new clarity and literally changed her life. It details the liberation and peacefulness she felt. Her vocals are so freeing that even just listening to the song you feel transcendent and ready to take on anything.
One of my favorite songs of the album and Rogers’ newest hit, “Light on” is the 5th track. She claims it to be her most vulnerable song as it addresses her sudden rise to fame. She reveals many of the intense feelings that came with her instant change in her life and sudden lack of privacy. Rogers explains that she was so terrified and just wanted everything to slow down. When she thought she was going to break she found strength in her fans and her music. Rogers finds so much gratitude in her fans and the light she gives her. The main lyric “I’ll leave the light on” is a promise to her fans; if they keep supporting her like they do, she’ll continue to share her light with the world.
“Past Life” is a dreamlike song that marks the end of the first half of her album. Rogers feels nostalgic about her past and describes the welling of emotions that comes with her reflection and can’t figure out how she became the person who she is today. The next song, “Say It,” paints a relatable portrait of falling too hard for a crush that will never work out. She has to keep telling herself that “I cannot fall in love with you,” but its so hard for her to ignore her butterflies. Unlike “Say it,” the next track, “On + Off” discusses her feelings about an actual relationship. While her mental health may be “on and off,” she always feels better with this person. This is her perfect love; somebody who understands her and makes her feel complete.
The 9th track of the album, “Fallingwater” is my absolute favorite. It is a radiant and powerful track about giving your all to something. Although you don’t know if it is enough, you have to allow yourself to power through your hardships. She is allowing herself to be passionate and free like “falling water.” The song addresses how she never let herself be this open in the past and she regrets it. With this song, Rogers gives a battle cry to herself and her fans. She isn’t holding herself back anymore. She is going to love and live in the way she was meant to and let herself push through life with the grace and strength of “falling water.”
With her next song, “Retrograde,” Rogers sings about a breakdown. She wants so bad to be out of this funk and distraught mental state, but she can’t seem to get her mind out of the darkness. She just wants to push through this and get out of what seems like “retrograde” s about a breakdown. She wants so bad to be out of this funk and distraught mental state, but she can’t seem to get her mind out of the darkness. She just wants to push through this and get out of what seems like “retrograde.” Her next song varies drastically from this one. With “Burning,” Rogers gives an upbeat song about how in love she is. She feels so intensely passionate and happy about this person and she wants everybody to know it.
Maggie Rogers claims that “folk music often romanticizes the road.” Although the folk genre is probably the most influential in her music, her final track, “Back in my Body” does the opposite of this. It’s a song about being able to control your life: to do what you love and in your terms. She alludes that while she was often losing herself on the road, she is able to get a better sense of herself while travelling. She discovers and shares that home isn’t necessarily a place to live, but wherever she feels comfortable with her own self.
Overall, Rogers has created an extremely cohesive and beautiful work of art on Heard it in a Past Life. She has added many self-reflective songs together to create a hope filled montage of what it means to grow up and have so many things change around you. She has the innate gift, like many great song writers, to find great beauty in small things. Heard it in a Past Life is so authentic and natural; it’s a breath of fresh air in a pop world of auto tune that lacks lyrical intimacy. Maggie Rogers is a triumph of an artist and I hope she gains the recognition she deserves in this upcoming year.