NASHVILLE — Our latest Nashville Pick is Maggie Miles and her single – Momentum.
Maggie is a 23-year-old pastor’s daughter from Northern Virginia and a gifted self-taught multi-instrumentalist. Her emotionally charged return draws from a vast array of sounds and visuals influence from the 90s era. Particularly grunge, dance and alternative rock, as well as movies including The Matrix, which made a deep impact on her as she discovered them during her turbulent teenage years. Maggie’s instantly memorable soulful pop vocals ruminate on the shifting nature of self and reflect on her deeply personal crisis of faith and a desire to start fresh and anew.
Starting over is something Maggie has done, time and again. Rebuilding her relationship with faith after growing up in an immersive religious background. Overcoming crippling stage fright to become a dynamic performing artist. Overcoming self-doubt to become the charismatic rising alternative pop star she is today.
Maggie Miles is on a journey seeking purpose within herself and with her faith. Hailing from Northern Virginia, the Nashville-based alternative pop artist is flipping the subgenre on its head by fearlessly revealing grappling life experiences set to electric production. Maggie’s lyrics reflect the most personal corners of her mind. This vulnerability drives her anticipated sophomore album, The Lack Thereof.
Out May 17th via Warehouse West Entertainment/BMG Rights Management, The Lack Thereof exudes freedom. Maggie breaks her mental chains and excitedly runs wild as she redefines her relationship with God and overcomes a deeply personal crisis. She wants to make it clear that this journey is specific to her, but hopes that listeners can find their own stories within the lyrics. The album’s themes call back to a 16-year-old Maggie as she discovered acts like Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Alice In Chains, and Twenty One Pilots while also dealing with mental health and finding out who she was both through music and faith. The album’s cover, taken at age 18 while on a car ride with friends through the Appalachian Mountains, reflects this turning point in Maggie’s life.
The album title’s meaning is poignant: “Around late 2020, I had a dream in the middle of the night and I saw this house,” Maggie explains. “I woke up at 3 a.m. and the phrase ‘faith, or the lack thereof’ was in my head. I opened up my journal and wrote it down. For some bizarre reason, I knew as I wrote down: ‘This is my next record.’”
Maggie’s self-reflection is best heard in The Lack Thereof’s single, “Asthma”. A sonic whirlwind, the blood-rushing production changes between pop-leaning piano melodies to crashing drums, raw industrial synths and grungy electric guitar riffs. Maggie’s pleading vocals take the track to emotive heights as she tries to catch her breath. “I’m pretty sure I learned my lesson,” she utters. “I can tell, ’cause I feel different.”
Other album highlights include the anthemic new single “Momentum”. The album’s most triumphant moment, it finds Maggie pushing herself through self-doubt. “I’m alone, but I know that I’ll grow when I keep on putting on the pressure to change. I know it sounds easy, but I’m the only one that’s in the way,” she sings over a swelling, ’90s rock-inspired production.
“A lot of that song is me struggling with my career and how that can be so intertwined with finding who Maggie is aside from being an artist,” she says of “Momentum”. Its accompanying Acacia Evans-directed video (inspired by The Prodigy and The Matrix) shows a creepy figure lurking behind the singer in a forest. “It’s about breaking cycles and being chased by this thing that you’re never gonna outrun unless you actually want to.”
The Lack Thereof also features previously released singles like the coming-of-age “Indecent” (“Who am I lately?” she ponders on the outro) and the album’s closer “Asleep” that serves as a resolution as she finally feels free to just be Maggie.
The Lack Thereof picks up where Maggie’s debut album Am I Drowning or Am I Just Learning to Swim left off. Released in 2020, the record is overall cleaner-sounding but teases what was to come for Maggie’s experimental sound. But the singer’s story really begins in the church. Growing up in Northern Virginia as a pastor’s daughter, she attended service every Sunday and Wednesday. As she got older, she was heavily involved in the youth group, lead worship and worked at the church coffee shop.
Yet Maggie (who holds her father and the rest of her family in high regard) began struggling as the balance between faith and who she was becoming outside of the church began to slip through her fingers. She cites age 16 as a pivotal point in her life, where she turned to instruments (predominately the piano) to fulfill what she thought was missing at the time. Her bedroom was in her family’s basement and its often dark, isolating energy is what led to finding her voice and playing around with chords from various songs on her keyboard.
After graduating high school in 2017, Maggie played her first show a year later, opening for a local artist. It was on that stage that she realized that music was truly her calling. A year later, the singer moved to Nashville to further pursue music after a fresh re-entry to the faith she had parted with for the year before. That uncomfortable headspace is what shaped Am I Drowning or Am I Just Learning to Swim as she searched for answers about her life’s meaning.
The Lack Thereof reflects a more confident Maggie but it also hugs the 16-year-old Maggie who was just discovering herself in that cold basement. The album’s easter eggs (the gang vocals on opener “I” and closer “Asleep” featuring her little sister and friends, a room mic that picks up a shaking glass on a desk, and various other sonic textures) call back to that time in the singer’s bedroom.
As Maggie continues to ascend in 2023, her main goal is to provide comfort. “I started writing in my little bedroom in my parents’ basement because that was my safe space. Creating something for myself helped me feel less alone,” she explains. “So, I’m now sharing that with others in the hopes that they feel less alone when they hear it. It’s a captivating presence that people can be part of.”
The Lack Thereof
Release date: May 17th
Label: Warehouse West Entertainment/BMG Rights Management
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