Jake Wesley Rogers is destined to become a household name. With a high-glam pop star aesthetic (think Elton John and Madonna), the Nashville transplant unrolls an indie-rock song with “Middle of Love,” his debut single for Warner Records. I didn’t ask to melt to the floor / I didn’t ask to even be born, he sings, production vanishing into the ether. His voice exudes both weariness and a punchy energy, as he muses on emotional deterioration before climbing back to the mountaintop.
“Middle of Love,” co-written with Justin Tranter and Eren Cannata, emerged “when I started to notice that love was causing destruction all around me. I saw my grandpa dying slowly after the loss of his wife, I read about my LGBTQ+ heroes who were mostly all murdered or exiled, and I witnessed my own romantic relationship exploding right before my eyes,” Rogers tells American Songwriter. “When I finally sat down to write [this song] with Justin and Eren, it was the perfect storm; all my guts just spilled out.”
Rogers also pulls on the tendons of his own “very true story about me and my ex. It’s also about all the ways I’ve let love hurt me and heal me,” he adds. “My favorite part of the song is the second verse where everything cuts out except the background vocal choir—it feels exactly to me what it felt like to fall in love for the first time. I love songwriting because it’s the medium I feel most free to express myself in. Nothing is better than putting a real life experience into melody and lyrics.”
In the accompanying visual, directed by Se Oh, Rogers demonstrates alarming stage presence, while also depicting queer love and devastation through stylized cinematography, bright, colorful lighting, and evocative performances. In the middle of loving you / It’s so far from done / You tried to run / I tried to tie your shoes, he sings over rollicking piano and drums. In the middle of love / In the middle of love / It’s breaking us up in two.
Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, Rogers began releasing singles independently in 2016 with such early releases as “The Ghost in You” and “I’ll Stand By You.” He continued dropping tracks the next several years, and with “Jacob from the Bible” (2019), he began to catch industry attention. He is now signed to Tranter’s Facet Records, in partnership with Warner, and is expected to play this year’s Bonnaroo.
“Jake is truly one of the most talented people I have ever, ever worked with. The songwriting, the vocals, the visual concepts, the live performance, it’s all at the highest level,” Tranter says. “Most importantly, the way that he lives his truth so poetically through his music makes me wish there was a superstar like him on the radio when I was young.”
“Middle of Love” samples Rogers’ forthcoming debut EP, expected this fall. As he takes a moment to reflect, he recalls the single worst piece of songwriting advice he’s ever received. “The worst advice I ever got in regards to my songwriting was to not be honest about who I am,” he offers. “I believe the more vulnerable I can get, the more I can relate to others.”