It was one of these ‘interesting, tell me more’ experiences that got me looking into the British gig Passenger, which basically consists of Mike Rosenberg as lead, plus a few studio musicians. And indeed so – he basically runs this outfit more or less on his own after the official break up of the band back in 2009.
Little chipmunk voice seemingly coming from the Master of Nerds letting off steam over everyday issues, sometimes of the trivial kind, sometimes with more substance, but not really getting up to speed with his music. Right?? Not so fast!
Passenger‘s fourth 2012 studio album All The Little Lights is laid back, quiet Folk Rock or simply Folk, interspersed with Pop. And not quite assaulting my ears in the way I am used to (compared to the Metal fare that is often blasting out of these loudspeakers). This quality continued in the follow-on album Whispers that may be even more thoughtful.
It was actually the main track Let her Go that really got my attention in the beginning. Stumbled across it when hunting for something else (totally different, in fact) on YouTube. And no doubt about it: This song won and continues to win best single awards right thru 2014 when I am writing this review. Impressive! And the success of All the Little Lights is remarkable. It positioned itself at rank 1 or very near it in quite a few of the billboard charts across the English speaking countries. But also in areas of the world where English is well spoken and understood.
The whole purpose of his song making is indeed about telling stories of felt or lived events in his or somebody else’s life or what he had seen or done. Clearly some of that stuff is kind of silly with too much drama and tearful whining. Whereas other tracks are quite touching, soulful, cutting deep and straight to the point. But then this is the creative right of an artist.
All in all, however, the quality of the tracks is very good, some of the tunes beautifully crafted. I was impressed by the way the songs are structured to get the message across. And for every one of them there is a different directional approach, style and instruments employed. From acoustic to pop to folk rock, Passenger use everything.
This evokes big names like Cat Stevens, Leonard Cohen, the likes of Simon & Garfunkel (or perhaps simply Paul Simon). Or then again Elton John in his earlier years, when the quality of his songs was still much better than today. And for sure a lot of that talent that we see still remains to be unlocked.
Noteworthy are All the Little Lights (the song), followed by The Wrong Direction. The acoustic pieces Circles and Life’s for the Living are adorable in this kind of nerdy way all the tunes are presented. The top track of course is Let Her Go, which cuts deep and does sound .. familiar. Hmm! Nicely constructed piece of Folk Rock.
As usual, Passenger hid some ugly in the good and this is the very last track I Hate (pun intended). Well, this one sucks big time, worse than fillers that listeners are usually confronted with. Self glorification does not get us anywhere. Jeez.
However and finally, All The Little Lights is a very good record made by a clearly gifted song maker. You need to listen to some of these songs a few times to really get the message. And – indeed – the value of this album is not necessarily in the tunes themselves, but very much in the texts employed. Enjoy!
Get dat tune:
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