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  • Jonathan Widran

MARK ROGERS, Qualifiers

Sometimes true love, or in Mark Rogers’ case, reconnecting after decades with a long departed sweetheart, is all it takes to refuel the creative juices and bring an artist’s search for his true musical identity to its boldest and most heartfelt expression. Years after abandoning his early musical dreams for the “straight and narrow”, the Virginia based singer/songwriter found Mary Ellen – whom he first dated in 1987 - on Facebook and the two began making up for lost time. The fresh romantic whirlwind ultimately led to marriage – and an outpouring of songs that led to the release of Rogers’ acclaimed 2017 debut EP Rearranged and its highly anticipated follow-up Qualifiers.

Several decades after a move from his hometown of Washington DC to LA to pursue a musical career – which included “probably being closer to a record deal than I thought I was” – the stylistically eclectic artist is enjoying a creative Renaissance driven by a folk/Americana/pop rock aesthetic that on the new collection also darts into rockabilly and bossa nova territory.

Truly embodying the adage about timing being everything, Rogers believes that the songs he is writing now have more depth and more compelling chord progressions than they did during his early pursuits. He finds Qualifiers to be less “love-struck” than Rearranged, whose songs were all inspired by Mary Ellen and their reunion. Thematically, he gravitates towards subjects that are personal and meaningful to him, like relationships, family, kids, experiences, etc.

Indeed, two of the EP’s most heartfelt songs are the lively, bossa flavored “The Blues Are Passing By,” reflecting wistfully on his 20-something daughters leaving home; and “Swerving” the epic Guy Clark/Townes Van Zandt-inspired acoustic story song about the unique relationship he had with his father when he was younger. He sings, “Cover those blue skies/Rubbing those red eyes/I was just rolling with my old man/Swerving into town.” In songs like the guitar driven pop-rocker title track and “No Bigger Fool,” the new collection also addresses some of the games played, the misunderstandings and the danger of heartbreak that are par for the course in romantic relationships.

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