Written by Hero Magnus

“Even though you’re sorry / doesn’t make you worthy,” sings Maggie Szabo on her latest single, “Heaven.” It’s a simple line, but it illustrates a whole new world.

She continues in a haunting stair-step-like melody. “Maybe I am guilty thinking one day you will change / trying to feel your shadow in a picture-perfect frame,” she sings, blaming herself, assessing if she has really let go of that old relationship.

On the collaboration for “Heaven,” Maggie Szabo worked with producer ESH, famous for his remixes of today’s popular songs. The production in this song is front-and-center; There’s a crushing amount of bass, and in the post-chorus it takes up so much space that it almost sounds distorted. The chorus itself is accompanied by orchestral-sounding synthesizers; there are whole tones throughout the piece, which amp up the drama as if in a movie soundtrack.

Maggie Szabo is a Canadian singer-songwriter from Ontario, Canada, currently living in LA. She’s featured often on collaborations with DJs, in films and other media, so it makes sense that she’d draw from film-scoring tropes. She has a catalogue of dozens of singles, including collaborations with other artists from Starma to the Trans Youth Chorus of LA; This latter collaboration was on a live single called “Don’t Give Up,” an anthem that Maggie wrote for trans teenagers, and it sounds like something from a musical. She has an enormous amount of variety in her work, but always includes emotionally intense lyrics and, of course, her lovely voice.

“You missed out on heaven / shot right past the stars / cause you didn’t stop to love right where you are / the train missed the station / too late to get on… don’t forget,” sings Szabo in the chorus. Her lyrical tonality of the choruses is so final, so resigned. Also, with this “you missed out” mentality, it’s hard not to come off as petty, but Maggie Szabo and ESH sound sincere. Maybe it’s the wisdom in her lyrics.

“Heaven” reminded me a bit of “Scream and Shout” by will.i.am and Britney Spears. It, too, was bass-heavy, although still not so intensely, and leaned into some lush background vocals. The orchestral vibe paired with high harmonies and a bass-focused post-chorus remind me of “Clarity” by Zedd featuring Foxes. Both songs shimmer in a similar way and I’m excited to hopefully see Szabo lean harder into this musical style.

“Don’t go turning this around now / cause I’m not gonna take the bait / swallow all the words you spit out,” continues Szabo in the second verse. Here, the audience can see what Szabo is fighting against: an onslaught of blame and untruths. So when she slips into the chorus that second time, we understand her even more. Sometimes, it just feels good to remind an ex that they’re the one who went wrong: if it’s the truth, it can be affirming to recognize.

Listen to “Heaven” by Maggie Szabo here!

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