Lily Kate Harpham
In her debut studio album Heard It in A Past Life, Maggie Rogers turns two years of constant creation into 45 minutes. The album features twelve songs, including “Light On,” which ranked as the thirteenth th best song of 2019 on the Billboard charts. Released on Jan. 18, 2019, Heard It In A Past Life debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 in its first week; by April 2019, it reached 400 million streams.
The overall theme of Heard It in A Past Life is change. Change in relationships, in others and in yourself, change in the world and change in the seasons. The first track on the album is “Give A Little,” an empathetic and lighthearted song intended to “reintroduce” Rogers to her listeners. Inspired by the national school walkout for gun control, Rogers channeled all her love, fear and confidence for the future into this song. Starting with the strong words, “If I was who I was before / Then I’d be waiting at your door / But I cannot confess I am the same” — Rogers tells her listeners that everything is different about her and the world. Calling out to her listeners to “… Open up your heart/Drop your weapons, drop your guard/Just a little trust is all it takes,” Rogers encourages empathy and mutual respect for others, no matter their background.
Another song that is notable on the album is “Alaska.” In an interview with Pitchfork, Rogers described “Alaska” as being written about “… a time in my life when I was really lost, and it, in turn, has provided so much clarity for me.” Once again, we have a song about change, this time personal; with the soft and sturdy rhythm inspired by the sound of her jeans brushing against each other and the crumble of leaves heard while hiking in Alaska, this song is a beautiful mixture of layered vocals and light drums with snapping fingers. In fact, during his Artist-in-Residency at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2016, Pharrell Williams listened to “Alaska” and was brought to tears by the song. The video of Williams’ response to hearing “Alaska” went viral, and with it so did Rogers.
The twelfth and final song on the album is “Back In My Body,” a song about “coming home to yourself.” Plucking experiences from her time spent abroad in Europe, Rogers paints the picture of someone watching their life change around them. The chorus, complete with deeply rhythmic drums and beautiful layered harmonies of Rogers’ soft voice, is a beautiful conclusion to the album. In the chorus of “Back In My Body,” Rogers sings, “This time, I know I’m (Back in my body) / Lost you in the border town of anywhere / I found myself when I was going everywhere.” “Back In My Body” is infectious, as is the rest of the album. You can never be mad about having a Maggie Rogers song stuck in your head; they are just too good.