Heard It In A Past Life
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There’s a lot of buzz around Maggie Rogers’ natural musical talent—a child harpist turned prize student at places like Berklee College of Music and NYU. But much of Rogers’ rise to fame has been centered on a classroom encounter with Pharrell Williams, and the social media storm it left in its wake. But with her first major-label supported album, Heard It In A Past Life, it’s Rogers’ chance to control the narrative.
Rogers’ debut is more of a reintroduction. Though Pharrell’s figure looms large in Rogers’ public profile, Heard It In A Past Life is a testament to Rogers as a singular musician. Her background suggests folk leanings, but dance and electronic are the clear influences on this record. In comparing Rogers to her pop music contemporaries, her debut has qualities similar to a Carly Rae Jepsen or Kacey Musgraves album—fun, easy to love, and relentlessly catchy.
From the opening track, “Give a Little,” Heard It In A Past Life is an upbeat, pop ride. Falling in love, losing love, feeling inadequate—all fodder for dance-tinged tracks, where Rogers’ powerful vocals are front and center. Her first single (the one Pharrell liked so much), “Alaska,” finds its way into the mix, amongst other similarly vibrant songs.
“Light On” is the second single. Like a Reputation-era Taylor Swift, sparkling synths accompany a swelling chorus. It’s clear that Rogers has found her sweet spot here, in soulful dance tracks. “Fallingwater” has the same big, optimistic feel, but this time laid on top of a House beat. The Rostam Batmangli co-written and produced track is a fantastic addition to his stellar catalog—the opening percussions alone are a bright spot in the album.
A mark of a musician finding her voice, there is a slightly unfocused quality to Heard It In A Past Life. Each song is individually delightful, but as a whole, it’s a bit all over the place. “Past Life” is a measured, Brandi Carlile-esque ballad. “Say It” is breathy, R&B vibes. “On + Off” is a banger filled with 2018’s ubiquitous trap elements.
It isn’t until the last two tracks though, that it feels like Rogers is steering the ship. “Burning” and “Back In My Body,” are power ballads reimagined. Bold, echoing percussions paired with Rogers’ energetic vocals have the gravity of a stadium rock anthem, with the slick production of this century.
In a two-year sprint to ride the tailwind of social media renown, Maggie Rogers created a competent pop album, with plenty of standout songs. While her debut isn’t a genre-redefining classic, Rogers’ promise and passion are manifest throughout. Heard It in a Past Life is an encouraging chapter in what will hopefully be a very long musical career.
Notable Tracks: "Back In My Body" | “Fallingwater” | "Light On"