Michael Rosenberg, better known as Passenger, is no newcomer to the music business. “All The Little Lights” exploded him into the awareness of the general music public, and deservedly so. But those who thought he might be a new to the game, were mistaken. Michael had been busking the streets of many a town around the globe, played every show from coffee houses, pubs, clubs to festivals. “All The Little Lights” was his fourth album. Seeing someone work hard for years, singing songs from the heart to finally get the recognition they deserve does put a smile to my face.
We have all heard about that dreaded “second album syndrome”. Weirdly Passenger had that glooming over his fifth album “Whispers”. Would he be able to deliver the goods after his “breakthrough” album? But Michael has been churning songs long before his success and I am glad to hear he hasn’t suddenly decided to “change the plan” after it either. I had high hopes for the Whispers. What struck me in Passenger’s music was the songwriting, especially the tension to detail in the lyrics. It seems every line is well thought out. There are no fill in lines, every word has a meaning, which is what the songwriting should be all about.
The opening track “Coins in the fountain” has a great rhythm and very similar sound scape you got used to in “All The Little Lights” to reassure you that this is going to be a solid Passenger album. And on the second track “27” Michael spells it all out: “The only thing I know, the only thing I get told, I’ve gotta sell out if I wanna get sold”. There is also this great quality to his music where from time to time he structures songs in a way that makes them sound like older folk songs, but still with a modern twist. The real gems for me though are the story songs on the album (I’m a sucker for story songs) like “Bullets” and “Riding To New York” where man is on his way to see his family one last time after he has been told he is dying from lung cancer. What really gets me is how many of the songs are so directly about Michael, but they still translate in to something universal and something we all can relate to, a sign of a true artist.
And for the guitar enthusiasts out there, Michael’s understated and extremely well controlled fingerpicking lays a foundation for most of the tracks on the album.
“Whispers” is a great Passenger album, filled with songs that will give you chills if you listen to them late at night with headphones on, which I highly recommend. Whether you are a passenger fan for a long time, or only discovered him after “All The Little Lights” you will not be disappointed with “Whispers”
The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get two of his free songs go HERE and click Download