New Music Reviews: Maggie Rogers and Adrianne Lenker

Two short albums by American female solo artists this week. Maryland’s Maggie Rogers makes likeable roots-tinged pop. From Indianapolis, Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker recorded her fifth studio album in a backwoods cabin.

Maggie Rogers

Don’t Forget Me

2024, 8.5/10
Rogers started her career strongly with Heard It In A Past Life. But she keeps getting better. Her rootsy pop doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but she does everything well. She writes memorable tunes, sings beautifully, with just a hint of grit, and provides enough stylistic variation to stay engaging.

Rogers works with Ian Fitchuk on her third album. Fitchuk is a Nashville-based producer and musician, who has worked with Kacey Musgraves. Rogers and Fitchuk are almost self-contained, handling the songwriting, production, and most of the instrumentation.

‘So Sick of Dreaming’ with its sparkling sound and vocal harmonies is reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac’s Tango in the Night era. It also works when she adds a dance beat behind her songs, like in opener ‘It Was Coming All Along’, or in ‘On & On & On’.

Rogers saves the best song for last, with the title track. Her voice suits the country-tinged chorus, while it starts with a great verse:

My friend Sally’s getting married
And to me that sounds so scary
I’m still tryin’ to clean up my side of the street
Can’t imagine what would happen
‘Cause I’m still acting out of habit
Hoping dirty words just don’t escape my teeth

Rogers isn’t doing anything groundbreaking, but she’s making excellent music nonetheless.

Adrianne Lenker

Bright Future

2024, 8/10
There’s a strong argument that Adrianne Lenker is the best songwriter going around at the moment. She combines the mystique of Neil Young and Bob Dylan, with a rootsy, raw sound. Lenker’s solo career is a little overshadowed by her work as the leader of Big Thief.

Lenker recorded Bright Future, her fifth album, in a studio in the woods with a small group of collaborators. It’s less band-oriented than her work with Big Thief, more like an informal campfire singalong, centred on Lenker’s guitar picking and keening, distinctive voice.

She’s even more direct and emotional than usual here. The opening ‘Real House’ is particularly intimate, the backing hushed while Lenker dissects a relationship. “I never saw you cry, not until our dog died” is unusually unvarnished for the usually cryptic Lenker.

Also noteworthy is ‘Vampire Empire’, a song that Lenker’s been performing live with Big Thief. It’s more propulsive and intense than most of the songs on the disc, and it’s a standout. There’s lovely folk material that Lenker

Lenker’s prolific – Bright Future was recorded back in Autumn 2022. She’s likely written more great songs since then.

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  1. I like both of these albums and included them in my weekly new music reviews at the time they were released. Maggie Rogers and Adrianne Lenker still are new artists to me, though I had heard of Lenker and Big Thief before.

    BTW, while I realize it’s largely coincidental, I think this is the first time your new music review 100% overlaps with new music I’ve highlighted as well.

    • Yup, that’s the first time I remember us both covering the same artists.

      Big Thief’s last few albums are great – worth checking out songs like ‘Not’ and ‘Cattails’.

  2. Adrianne Lenker is interesting…I listened to some of her music…she is a very good song writer.
    I like the Rogers cut…what I like is the rootsy part of her pop…she keeps it grounded musically. That in modern pop I can get behind.

    • Lenker’s amazingly prolific – between her solo work and Big Thief, she’s cranking out more than an album per year.

      Rogers manages to walk a thin line between pop and country really well. Manages to keep it a little edgy and really authentic.

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Aphoristic Album Reviews is almost entirely written by one person. It features album reviews and blog posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.

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Graham Fyfe has been writing this website since his late teens. Now in his forties, he's been obsessively listening to albums for years. He works as a web editor and plays the piano.

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