After all that harder Metal stuff I reviewed lately, it is time to get to something a little softer and more reflective. What better choice than Passenger with their newest 2014 release and 6th studio album Whispers. Or more Mike Rosenberg with his latest and best, made with some studio musicians.
Similar style (or kind of, at least) than its predecessor All the Little Lights, the music is quite varied and somewhat different from each other, but of course and as usual, the melodies are of lesser importance, but more focus are on the texts – he is a story teller.
And clearly Da Mastah is really gifted and has a knack with melodies of all sorts. Having written songs myself, I know how difficult it is to make everything rime. It takes time and many painful turns until you get there. Of course it would help if Mike’s voice would be a bit fuller not just that wheezy/breezy kind of whispers (no pun intended..). But then this is also the allure of the music Passenger produce. This is real songwriting, folks, not just the use of some bullshit tools. Piecing together rave party junk out of prefabricated bits and pieces coming from some sound studio lalaland.
Again, listening to these tunes, I cannot be but reminded of Cat Stevens and ‘Elton John‘ in his age old record Tumbleweed Connection (not all, for some of it only..). And – lo and behold – the acoustic tracks in the Deluxe Version are actually almost better than the ones in the main album. And this is amazing, but not really new. The same happened with other artists too. Like Epica’s The Quantum Enigma, where the acoustics qualify better for the charts.
What I am missing, though, is some depth in the discourse offered by the British lead (and only official band member) Mike Rosenberg. It sometimes all seems a bit flat. With clichés that were already used all over in former times. Whereas it is difficult to find new ones of course. But it does sometimes seem like beating a dead horse. A bit like Taylor Swift – the eternal prom queen now turned Madonna – singing that coming to New York is such a great thing. Of course totally different style, but missing depth nonetheless.
And also it is mostly a reflective album after all. And perhaps too much so, for most of today’s audiences. Delivered in some sort of a subdued and reserved style, but it seems to come from the heart. And sometimes you would like to shake the singer to come out of himself a bit more and inject some more energy into the tune. I miss the energy in Whispers that could be felt in former productions. It is as if – a bit like described in ‘27‘ – this is about aging. Mike now has a big #3 on his back. Something has pulled some sort of a rug from under his feet and sucked up the energy that was prevalent before.
But having said all that, Passenger delivers a pretty good production after all. But for sure does not have the reach of its 2012 predecessor. Just think of the superb folk ballad Let her go – difficult to match that one. By and large it is a jumble of super soft Folk songs that kind of blend into one another. It could have been a bit louder for my taste!
The essence Passenger‘s newest album is best described in Mike’s own words in the song Whispers: ‘You see all I need’s a whisper in a world that only shouts’. All this is best consumed with a dram of whiskey in front of the fire when the winter wind is howling outside. You need to be in somewhat of a melancholy mood for it. So, if you are in for some real quiet, soulful song writing and open heart discourse, then this is your album to enjoy. As many fans so avidly do.
Get dat tune:
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