Megan, feminist writer and musician, with her review of Jake Wesley Rogers’ latest EP: Love, released in October 2022.
As with most new discoveries these days, I happened to stumble upon a new artist I am absolutely obsessed with through TikTok. Singer-songwriter Jake Wesley Rogers has been hailed as the ‘Gen Z Elton John’, and it’s not hard to see why. As well as amazing musicality and lyricism that creates depth and emotion that hits you right in the feels, his outfit choices are glorious.
He has created a look that exudes glamour and creativity. When speaking to Vogue, Rogers explained how growing up he was used to standing out from what the ‘norm’ looked like. Being from the Ozarks, where he says ‘being different isn’t necessarily celebrated’, this ‘pushed him to be more different’. He also explains where his inspiration comes from, naming Lady Gaga as the artist he looked up to the most: ‘she was my entrance into what it could look like to be a glam pop star, but still have the integrity of an artist, writer, and performer’. With his glam rock inspiration, it’s certainly not hard to see why the visual aspects of his artistry are so key.
Career Journey – Jake Wesley Rogers
Rogers started his career in 2016 as an independent artist, before releasing his first album Evergreen in 2017. This album is an emotionally revealing one, examining love that is lost throughout. There is quite a sombre tone to this EP. Looking at his most recent EP, Love (2022), there is quite a contrast in how he describes love, both with his lyrics and the instrumental aspects of the songs. Although still revealing, it seems as though Rogers lyrics in Love suggest more of an understanding of his journey to find love and a more positive outlook on love, even when it’s not what we expected.
Rogers says on his album:
1 Call it Love
2 Lavender Forever
3 Modern Love
4 My Mistake
6 Dark Bird
Read more from Megan…
EP Review: Love – Jake Wesley Rogers
Jake Wesley Rogers starts his album with ‘Call It Love’. It begins with spoken word, creating a feeling of intimacy. This provides a great start to the album, as it allows you to feel connected to him from the get go and feel embedded within the songs. This song is, as the title would suggest, all about love, and different kinds of love at that: short term (‘bathroom stall’); modern dating (‘He don’t reply and I think that he hates me’); pain from long term love (‘I guess Grandpa had Grandma forever ’til he didn’t’). It’s almost as if it is a reflection of the stages of love a person will go through. It feels incredibly relatable, allowing a feeling of connectedness to him and his lyrics from the beginning.
The album moves to ‘Lavender Forever’ which is, again, another love song. It feels to me as though it is a song about being stuck in love, particularly with the lyric: ‘sticky sticky fingers for life’. It then moves to ‘Modern Love’. The lyrics in this display a change in how young people see love. The older generation are ‘Selling that old American Dream’, but that’s not what the ultimate goal for everyone is. Modern love is what we’re after, which is anything we want – ‘We can hold hands on the fence’ – can stay where we are, there’s no need to rush.
‘My Mistake’ creates a change of feeling. It is a very stripped back song instrumentally, reflecting the emotional intimacy of the lyrics. It highlights the difficulty in falling in love with the wrong person: ‘Yeah, it took some time, To see the difference, Between him and I’. The lyrics also suggest a feeling that he wasn’t loved entirely for who he was, and that someone will love him for exactly who he is, and perhaps better than the love he has felt before: ‘Someone’s gotta love me not in vain, Somebody’s gotta love me just the same’.
The lyrics in the next song, ‘Hindsight’, suggest that one should take a leap of faith (perhaps that he wish he’d done so in the past), and to not be afraid to do so: ‘God, I wish I would’ve known when I was younger, It’s okay to smile when you’re finally happy, Hindsight’s 20/20, Reach for their hands at the movie, Fall into someone, let ’em have me, Yeah, hindsight’s 20/20’. This feeling of taking a leap is reflected in the instrumental aspects of the song. You can’t help but feel a sense of power when the upbeat tempo, staccato keys and pounding kick drum come together. As well as this, Rogers sings in the chorus in a way that makes me feel as though he is shouting it, like he really believes that taking a leap of faith is what we should all be doing.
He ends the album with ‘Dark Bird’, where the lyrics feel like they change quite drastically. It almost feels like a revenge song, with the lyric: ‘All good martyrs get the last word, I got the last word’. The sombre tone from his first EP perhaps rears its head a little here, but rhythmically and melodically it still feels quite an upbeat song. To me, it feels as though he is comfortable with the knowledge that he’s lost something or someone here, compared to his first EP where instrumentally it feels quite emotionally heavy. This song presents an almost contradictory approach between the lyrics and melodic aspects.
Not only is this EP lyrically wonderful, but also melodically great; there is a vibe for every feeling. I would highly recommend listening to this album (or any of Jake Wesley Rogers albums for that matter) if you like Ben Platt, JP Saxe, Noah Kahan and Maisy Peters.