I am usually very specific about the styles of music I listen to and folk rock has never been among them. However, I’m pleased that I broadened my musical horizons by allowing British singer/songwriter Mike Rosenberg, otherwise known as Passenger, on to my mp3 player.
What he delivers is a collection of powerful and poignant guitar-based folk and indie pop tracks that are often embellished with the use of an orchestra. They are always personal, retaining an intimacy that talks to our own lives but reflecting an obvious angst and anger in Rosenberg’s own life experience.
He achieves much of this affinity through his vocal styling. His voice is very distinctive. It’s quite difficult to describe to the uninitiated: perhaps a mournful trill that sounds something like a world-weary supernatural creature that has spent a long night on the booze and cigarettes.
Of course, I have some favourite songs; the album has almost been on replay since I bought it. The melancholic Heart’s on Fire is one of Rosenberg’s most confidential compositions, while Bullets is simply poetry set to music, reciting an intimate tale of loneliness. These are subjects that can touch us all and Passenger makes them so easy to relate to.It’s not all downbeat melancholy, though. Rosenberg has a wonderful gift for a catchy melody. Tracks like the calypso-flavoured Coins In A Fountain, or the up-tempo ode to aging 27, got my toe tapping while the mid-tempo Scare Away the Dark is a highly enjoyable song.
However, don’t expect to hear this album at parties. These are compositions for introspective listening, for times when you demand some space for just chilling out, laying back and appreciating great lyrics and warm melodies.
Sometimes, it’s a pleasant surprise to break out of the confines in which we place ourselves. I’m glad I did with Whispers.
Listen to the wonderful title track from this Passenger music collection: Whispers.
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