In 2016, Maggie Roger’s life changed when she sat in a master class with Pharrell Williams at NYU where she played what eventually became her debut single “Alaska”, which visibly moved Williams and eventually landed her a major label deal with Capitol Records. Fast forward three years and Rogers has finally released her debut album Heard It In A Past Life, and it was well worth the wait.
It is clear through the 12-song album that fame is something Rogers has grappled with since day one. But, the honesty and sincerity in her music about her struggles is what is going to make her a star. Each song on the album is carefully crafted with love, care, and the desire to share her truth with the world. Heard It In A Past Life kicks off with one of the first singles that was released off the album “Give A Little”, which was written on the day of the national school walk out for gun control. While the song sounds hopeful, it is almost a cry for humans to show more empathy towards each other, especially in the time of a tragedy.
When listening to the album from top to bottom, each song feels like a new chapter. Every song feels new and fresh, each making it’s own statement and sharing Rogers’ experiences from the last three years. “Light On” and “Past Life” feel like the end of act one – both songs incredibly emotional and different compared to the first handful of songs on the album. “Light On” is arguably the best uptempo ballad on the album, the song is filled with mixed emotions that work together in a beautiful, unexpected way. On “Past Life”, Rogers cries about everything in her life changing in a way that’s so raw and vulnerable, making it the perfect conclusion to the first half of the album.
The second half of the album kicks off with “Say It” which has a completely different, but welcomed sound. It pays homage to 90’s R&B with its snappy drum beats and layered vocals in the chorus. One of the stand out tracks on the album is “Fallingwater” which was also one of the pre-released singles, and its ability to power and move the listener is incredible. Rogers caught the attention of many when she performed “Fallingwater” on SNL in the fall of 2018. It was clear that something happened to her during that performance, it was so simple but filled with so much care and emotion.
Songs like “Retrograde” and “Burning” lend to the more synth-pop side of Rogers’ sound, which is the perfect compliment to the soulful, calm, and almost soothing R&B tones of the rest of the album. But, the final song on the album, “Back In My Body”, is a song about change and finding yourself. It talks about Rogers’ world travels and how she came home from touring and traveling to realize she found pieces of herself in everywhere she went. The song also shares the title of her self-released documentary about her first time touring and returning to Alaska after the release of her debut single.
When listeners walk away from listening to Heard It In A Past Life, they will walk away realizing two things—that Rogers is her own woman and she’s ready to take on the world. She sings about emotion and the pains of growing up in a way that everyone can relate to. Her ability to be brutally honest about herself and her experiences is her biggest strength, and what will continue catapult her into stardom.