If anybody asks where I am, just assume I’m experiencing the feral joy that only a brand-new Maggie Rogers album can inflict on me. With her new album Surrender, Maggie tells stories about seeking escape through allowing herself to let go and just feel everything. It’s a gorgeous album, transcendent in both its production and its storytelling as Maggie waves the white flag above her heard for all of us.
Since the release of her critically acclaimed debut album Heard It in a Past Life in 2019, Rogers has been quite busy- having just graduated with her Masters in Religion and Public Life from Harvard’s Divinity School while simultaneously writing and producing her sophomore album. There’s a certain level of authenticity that Maggie continues to bring not only to her art but to her life as well that makes people gravitate towards her and root for her in every endeavor. And I truly believe that this authenticity bleeds through into her lyrics and her production as well. Let’s break it all down now!
Album opener “Overdrive” feels like an open road song- that start of a road trip kinda banger that sets the mood for what’s to come and feels like the utter freedom of the open highway before you. Rogers’ voice feels massive right from the first note, deepening her register on this record in ways we have never heard prior- in fact it’s almost reminiscent of Florence Welch at times in her ability to flip from her head to chest voice. “I don’t wanna do this again if you’re gon’ break my heart, I’m tearing at the seams, can’t believe that it’s gotta be this hard, you told me that I was all you could see, but you kept me in the dark,” she belts out on the bridge of a broken relationship as the production intensifies. “Overdrive” is an evolutionary piece, bridging the gap between the folk influenced sounds of her past and leading us into the liberation to come.
“Anywhere With You” is an absolute standout and is quite possibly a contender for my Top 10 Songs of 2022 so far- both raw and exuberant in its storytelling and production. Maggie’s vocals are absolute perfection here as she tries to help her companion out of their lowest point in search of something bigger than themselves. “You tell me that forever couldn’t come too soon, If I’m gonna lose my mind, I’m gonna lose it with you, You tell me you want everything, you want it fast, but all I’ve ever wanted is to make something fucking last,” their outlooks on what’s to come may differ but she makes it clear that what’s most important is experiencing this journey together. The song’s crescendo is truly breathtaking, and the production choices made here by Del Water Gap, Kid Harpoon, and Maggie herself are, to put it quite plainly, fucking phenomenal.
Channeling the grunginess of 90s rock and almost Springsteen-esque in the feeling it evokes comes “Shatter”, another incredible feat brought to us through the magical collaboration of Rogers and Kid Harpoon. It somehow encapsulates a handful of emotions- love, joy, fear, anger and confusion, all mixed into one song with a chaotic production to match it and a vocal so raw, it feels ethereal. Her authenticity continues to bleed through here with the adorable cracks in her voice bringing such character to her performance that it leaves me begging for more with every single listen. “I don’t really care if it nearly kills me, I’d give you the world if you asked me to, I could break a glass just to watch it shatter, I’d do anything just to feel with you“. She’s on an entirely different level.
Maggie’s lyrics read like gorgeous prose in pieces like “Begging For Rain”, which tells the story of that feeling of being in a dark place and focusing on what could have been different while begging for what could bring you relief. “You work all day to find religion, and end up standing in your kitchen, wondering ’bout the way it’s always been, I’m a firefighter and I can’t stop it, they fan the flames higher than rockets, and leave you standing on an open plane, begging for rain,” that feeling of grief is difficult to shake and can cause you to miss out on moments and people in your life that become casualties in the wake of your pain. It’s quite solemn but that’s what makes it all that much more poignant. Sonically, this track is more stripped back and a welcome reprieve from the string of bangers surrounding it in the tracklist.
As the album heads towards its conclusion, we reach “Symphony”, which truly feels like an exhale from the rising tension that comes before it. It’s a moment of liberation, of transcendence, and a reminder to grasp onto that feeling as we continue on with our lives. “So just be here with me, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be, and there’s a symphony every time you look my way, I know we’re under slept and life’s a promise that never ends, but you can handle it. Take a breath,” she urges her partner to surrender to this feeling of peace that she has found for herself in their relationship. It’s a moment for us to take that breath as well- to take in what we’ve experienced and surrender to our emotions as Maggie transitions into the album’s final track.
What Maggie Rogers has done with Surrender is what most artists merely dream of- capturing the overwhelming mess of emotions that one experiences in life and refusing to let it take her under. Instead, she uses all of the pain as a lesson, finding her own motivation to continue on and in surrendering to all that she’s faced- she found true liberation.
Surrender is out now on all streaming platforms!