Passenger | Whispers | Rating: 8.5/11 |
Mike Rosenberg, aka Passenger, has come a long way since his hit single, “Let It Go” in 2012. Though he’s toured the world, both supporting fellow singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran and on his own, this folk artist still planted himself on random street corners (one of them during San Diego’s Comic-con) last year to croon at people as they passed him by. With this release of his sophomore album, Whispers, Passenger proves he’s heading in the right direction.
The first track, “Coins in a Fountain” sets the tone for the rest of the album. It starts with a crisp, clean guitar intro that leads into a samba-esque beat complete with xylophone accents. Enter Passenger’s stream-of-consciousness lyrics and you’ve got a one-way ticket to a tropical party escape. By contrast, “27” is a rhythmic train ride with strings and a barrage of folk-rap, if there is such a thing. “Heart’s On Fire” is classic Passenger. Poetic in its simplicity, the song is characterized by delicate guitar lines, sweet strings and soothing vocal harmonies.
The rest of the album follows more or less along the same lines, making for a comfortably enjoyable listen. Other notable tracks include the fun, drum-driven romp that is “Thunder,” the introspective “Rolling Stone” and the title track, “Whispers,” which lyrically sums up Passenger’s relative position in today’s music world: “Everyone’s filling me up with noise / I don’t know what they’re talking about / You see all I need’s a whisper / In a world that only shouts.” The album ends with the anthemic, “Scare Away the Dark,” in which he muses, “We want something real not just hash tags and Twitter” and so calls us “To sing, sing at the top of your voice,” and “Love without fear in your heart.”
Passenger’s strength is in the clarity of his work and his seemingly effortless turns of phrase. He is a born storyteller, adept in using music to paint pictures with words. In today’s overproduced, electronic pop market, his voice is a welcome one that cuts through the clutter and wraps you in a warm blanket by the fire, perhaps with a cozy cup of tea. At the end of a long, busy day, his are the melodies that will take you home.