Maggie Rose is one of the most promising female vocalists to hit the mainstream in quite a while. Her 2013 hit "Better" was a touching country ballad in the style of the female greats of the past, and her debut album Cut To Impress did just that: Impress. "Looking Back Now" is the third single from the album and is slowly climbing the charts. Country radio is a touch shell to crack for female vocalists, but Maggie Rose has the chops to break out and join Miranda, Carrie, and Taylor at the top.
"Looking Back Now" is a gutsy song for today's radio. Murder, abuse, and the death penalty are all tackled in this story. The song progresses through different issues with men that Maggie encounters, all bad, and the men always end up on the wrong end of the gun. At the end, Maggie receives the death penalty for her crimes, and she regrets some of her decisions as she looks back, hence the title. That's pretty heavy stuff. It seems like its going to be a fairly straight forward "girls gone bad" song about shooting abusive men, but unlike many of her counterparts who have covered this topic again and again, Maggie deals with the consequences after the fact. Sure, "Kerosene", "Gunpowder and Lead", and "Before He Cheats" are great songs, nothing against them, but the song ends after they set the fire, take the shot, or smash the truck. That's arson, murder, and destruction of property if you're keeping track at home. Maggie Rose takes us to death row in her last verse, and shows those actions have equal and opposite reactions. Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash were masters at making this connection in their songs, and while Maggie is no Johnny or Merle (and that's absolutely NOT a knock on her, who IS a Johnny or Merle?), she brings their spirit to this song and pulls it off masterfully. The only criticism I can scrounge up is that the story may be a little over he top and tough to believe, especially from a sweet looking girl like Maggie Rose, but she still pulls it off.
Musically, the song has a catchy sound and solid modern country twang. It fits right in on the radio, but still sounds distinctly country. It has an easy to sing along to melody and will get stuck in your head. Unlike other earworm hits, this song has a message. It proves what I always say: you can have a fun song that is upbeat, catchy, AND have a message if you put some effort in. Maggie put in the effort, and the result is a darn good song.
Maggie Rose may not be on a lot of people's radar yet, but if she continues what she is doing, she can be a perfect bridge between the traditional and mainstream country music worlds. "Looking Back Now" is another great song from Cut To Impress. Maggie Rose may be the surprise breakout star of the year if she keeps up the good work. "Looking Back Now" is a winner in my book.