Mags on Earth likely recorded her song “Old Ford Road” before a very similarly-named song that may or may not be a giant joke climbed atop the Billboard Hot 100. “Old Ford Road” is no “Old Town Road,” but the songs do share a certain form of laxness that make them all the more alluring. In the case of “Old Town Road,” intentionally slipshod references to Wrangler on the booty, bull riding and boobies, and all those other instantly iconic lines make the track casually kingly. On “Old Ford Road,” on the other hand, Mags achieves her subtly throned standpoint with laconically whispered singing that occasionally transitions into a cadence as rap-like as it is blissed-out.
Throughout “Old Ford Road,” which Mags constructs from dissipating half-note handclaps, languid acoustic arpeggios, featherlight eighth-note cymbal clatter, and gently chilly synth lines, she intones as though she exists with her arms permanently folded, her neck tilted slightly back, the finer details of her eyebrows and forehead obscured by some lofty black top hat. She manages to fuse the royal sigh of Lana del Rey with the bombast of, well, most other pop stars without raising her voice’s volume beyond a level that would reach any farther than across a standard living room. She’s as casual as she is confident.
And justly so: “Old Ford Road” is a meditation on how Mags immerses herself in cities to feel free, to forgive herself for any ways in which she feels inadequate. Girl in the City, the EP from which “Old Ford Road” hails, reckons with the ways Mags and most people can feel like they’ve failed at life if they don’t meet the lofty goals that society allows people to set for themselves. In losing herself among the many anonymous faces and bodies of London, where Mags now resides after formative years spent in Sweden, Mags can connect with herself and find the acceptance she struggles with during those moments of deep self-criticism. “In ‘Old Ford Road,’ there is self-compassion, self-forgiveness, and a sense of enjoying life in the imperfect present,” Mags says in a statement. No wonder she sounds as euphoric as she does fierce: like a certain viral star, she knows how to enjoy life whenever the time calls.