With Qualifiers, Mark Rogers takes a page out of the “minimalist’s” handbook. To the unanointed, it’s easy to mistake his music as a simple take on old-school, pop-laced folk and soft rock, but there’s a whirlwind going on behind the scenes. Rather than take listeners on just another low-key, palatable ride down memory lane as a throwback-inspired singer-songwriter, Rogers deftly invites elements of various genres, influences, and emotions to pervade his music both in structure and production. Although his tunes ride more on the spectrum of new age Jackson Browne or James Taylor than the Milk Carton Kids, like the Eagle Rock duo, he invites a level of nearly mystifying level of cohesion into his work despite the great variances between each song’s structure.
This speaks to his songwriting quality, most assuredly. Luckily, his abilities as a performer can meet his writing chops, as well. Of the six songs Qualifiers is comprised of, each is mastered without any hitches to speak of—a feat for most grassroots releases, let alone one co-produced by the artist. Perhaps, then, Rogers can be marked as a veritable jack-of-all-trades, what with his aforementioned performances present on the album also being worthy of note.
It’s arguably the greatest glue that holds the ship together for the listening audience, with Rogers’ warmly resonant vocals striking a heartstring straightaway with ‘No Bigger Fool’. Rogers holds down the fort with gently swaying blues inflections throughout the piece, invoking layers of harmonies and guitar licks reminiscent of something the Eagles may have produced during their heyday. From there, the EP takes a tonal shift with ‘The Blues Are Passing By’ a few tracks in, with a sunny, jazz-infused arrangement taking the front seat. Bravely, Rogers settles into a passionate, honestly-produced folk tune for his final bow, with ‘The World Changed Forever’, wherein, even at its darkest moments, his hope for a better tomorrow is visceral.