Heard it in a Past Life is the debut studio album by singer/songwriter/producer Maggie Rogers. Rogers first came onto the scene at the age of 22, when her working single “Alaska” was played for hit producer Pharrell Williams back in 2016 during a visit to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. “Alaska” now reemerges alongside eleven other tracks in this new indie/folk-pop album.
The first mention-worthy aspect of this album would be Rogers’ vocals. They seem to scratch an itch somewhere deep inside, as elegant tones woven with occasional strength and rush. It could, perhaps, be comparable to the tone of a singer such as an indie-popped Celine Dion. However, though Rogers’ voice is unique and just simply pleasant, it does become a bit dull after listening to the full album. I would have liked to see her take more risks with her voice and present the listener with surprises every once in a while.
Though the overall layout of Rogers’ vocals can come across as a bit lack luster, the production on this album certainly does not. Every single track here pops with a new flavor for the listener to enjoy. The overall style is an impressive mix of modern synth pop with remnants of 80’s pop while occasionally bringing in thick, luscious piano chords and smooth guitars. The album also resonates with a theme of intricate and punchy percussion that mingles harmoniously with the cool toned synths and backing vocals. It’s relaxing yet intricate and is certainly impressive for a debut album.
As far as the lyrical themes and overall layout of the album goes, there isn’t much to say. Rogers seems to be going for a mood, or perhaps a snapshot of her early 20’s life. There aren’t any lyrics that need to be parsed or any themes that haven’t been told a thousand times over, but that doesn’t seem to be what Rogers was going for in the first place. This album feels like it would be perfect to play on a lazy Sunday or on a road trip through the country. Rogers chose to focus on an atmosphere instead of letting the album get bogged down with unsuccessful attempts at deep metaphors and themes. Of course, it would be nice to see Rogers take those kinds of risks in the future as she grows as a musician and songwriter, but for a debut album it’s a pleasant listen and will definitely be making its way onto my playlists.