Maryland native Maggie Rogers first rose to the spotlight after a video of Pharrell Williams listening to her song “Alaska” went viral in 2016. This resulted in her earlier work being discovered — her 2012 album, The Echo, 2014 folk album, Blood Ballet, and 2017 EP titled Now That the Light Is Fading.
Earlier this year, Rogers released Heard It In A Past Life, her debut album under Capitol Records. The LP opens up with catchy and dance-party-like “Give A Little“, a song that the singer says is “a chance to re-introduce herself to her listeners, as well as being a summer song about empathy in the midst of all this fear and hate”. Rogers explained that the song was written on the day of the National School Walkout for gun control, mentioning that she felt inspired by “the change those students were fighting for and continue to fight for”.
The album continues with “Overnight“, a catchy heartache letter filled with sentiment. Rogers explained that it’s from her new self to her old self. “This is about the way my life changed overnight. And how that made me feel” the singer explained on her Instagram.
“The Knife“, represents companionship and realization. Rogers references how “the knife of insight (…) broke me down” and “taught me how to see“. She also sings “hit me up if you’re feeling down” and says that if you “give a little, we’ll figure this out“. Like the previous songs, this track will also make you want to dance everything out.
The next track it’s no stranger to anyone who has heard of Rogers in the past. “Alaska” is defined by the singer as the song that “changed my life” since it’s the song that played on the viral video that forced her into the spotlight. “Even though I (…) created it, there are so many aspects of this song that feel like they don’t belong to me. (…) Like I heard it in a past life” Rogers explained. This song is a perfect balance between the more dance-forward sound that was presented throughout this album and her folk background found in her earlier work.
The singer describes “Light On” as a song about gratitude. In it, she narrates the sudden change that comes with becoming a public figure after going viral and how her fans’ support gives her the stability to move on and adapt to her new lifestyle, underlining how thankful she is for them.
“Past Life” marks the middle of the album or, as Maggie Rogers would say, the end of “Side A“. It’s the softest and slowest song on the album and narrates the moment the singer felt her life shifting and how she felt her past life was haunting her but that it’s molding her life into what its supposed to be.
The second half of the album opens up with “Say It” and it doesn’t take long for the rhythm to speed back up again. When talking about this song, Rogers referenced “the sparkly feeling of possibility” that came with having a crush which is nailed perfectly since this song is a dreamy representation of what it feels to be into someone and hoping that maybe, someday, it will be much more.
It doesn’t take much to understand that “On + Off” talks about the back and forth of a relationship. Rogers explained to Nylon that “it’s a song about finding someone that grounds you and brings you emotional stability as much as it is about finding someone you have chemistry with. I think love tends to be some strange balance of the two“.
Rogers says that “something woke up” when she made “Fallingwater“. The song celebrate rapid change and give more insight into the changes that the singer has been experiencing since going viral in 2016, which is when she actually started writing the song. It was produced on and off the following two years with help from former Vampire Weekend member, Rostam Batmanglij.
Nothing says letting go more for Rogers than “Retrograde“. She says that performing this song live gives her “the most amazing feeling (…) to yell with every part of me and feel the air from the back of my throat“. This song it’s supposed to represent a breakdown.
The eleventh track, “Burning“, falls back into a song that’s perfect to dance to. Rogers explained that in “the craziness of the last two years” she also “fell head over heels, completely in love” so that this song is one “about loving your life” and how she’s burning, feeling alive and happy.
Heard It In A Past Life closes with “Back In My Body“, a song that represents coming home and coming back to yourself. Rogers released a documentary of the same name in which she explained “being back in my body means being able to do the things I love, but do them in the way I love, and in my way, and in my time, giving myself the opportunity to just be me“.
She promises in an open letter to always be her, to be messy, flawed, honest and, most important, human and that is exactly what “Heard It In A Past Life” embodies.
You didn’t let us down, Maggie.