When Mumford & Sons experimented on last year’s album, Delta, they sought the help of two female singers from across the Atlantic.
One was West Memphis native Abbey Smith, who performs under the name Yebba. The other was Maggie Rogers, whose fondness for banjos and acoustic guitars made her a natural fit.
We’ll be hearing more of Yebba when she guests on Mark Ronson’s forthcoming album, Late Night Feelings.
But Rogers is ready to up her profile now. Fresh from supporting the Mumford clan on last November’s UK tour, she uses her first solo album to branch out into dreamy pop and dance.
The Maryland singer, 24, got her big break three years ago. Raised in a rural town near Chesapeake Bay, she was studying music at the Tisch School Of The Arts in New York when R&B superstar Pharrell Williams dropped in to host a masterclass.
Impressed by her half-finished song Alaska, he told her: ‘I’ve never heard anyone like you before.’
The deceptively simple track became an online hit and was later a highlight of Maggie’s debut EP. A fusion of folk and dance, it also sets the tone for an album of modern, machine-tooled pop with a big heart.
Produced by Paul McCartney’s latest associate Greg Kurstin, Heard It In A Past Life is quirky enough to be credible but catchy enough for the charts.
Several tracks begin gently before soaring on a bed of feather-light electronics and infectious hooks. Give A Little features Rogers harmonising with herself as Kurstin creates a stately chorale by multi-tracking her soft, breathless soprano.
Elsewhere, she keeps things simple on the Stevie Nicks-like piano ballad Past Life, before heading for the dancefloor on the pulsating Retrograde, informed by the Berlin nightclubs she frequented on a visit to Europe.