Written by Jules Innocenzi on 30th January, 2012
Every now and then an artist comes along and makes you stop dead in your tracks to soak in the music they make and the poignant lyrics they write and sing. Troubadour Mike Rosenberg, aka Passenger, is one of these amazing artists.
Aussies love claiming internationals as one of our own, and UK born and bred Passenger, I think, might be all too happy to be claimed. He has toured and collaborated with many of our best musicians. His 2010 release Flight of the Crow saw him work with the likes of Josh Pyke, Katie Noonan, Boy & Bear, Kate Miller-Heidke, members of Dead Letter Chorus, Matt Corby and Lior.
Passenger’s upcoming Australian recorded release All The Little Lights is a wonderfully crafted album filled with his trademark raspy, youthful vocals, delicately pieced together tracks and thought-provoking lyrics. The band Passenger put together for this release include Boy & Bear drummer Tim Hart, jazz bassist Cameron Undy and Stu Hunter on keyboards from Katie Noonan & The Captains.
The opening track Things To Stop You Dreaming is simply beautiful. It highlights everything a good Passenger song should embody: Rosenberg’s youthful, chilled vocals, peaceful melodies and thoughtful lyrics always relaying to the listener a story or a moral being passed down.
Let Her Go is one of my favorites that All The little Lights has to offer. Hindsight is a beautiful thing and the ups, downs and quirks of it are wrapped up nicely in the insightful lyrics of this track, which is layered on the sounds of acoustic guitar and melancholy violin. This is one of those songs that really makes you contemplate life. And just when you start feeling the emotion of the lyrics, the next track Staring At The Stars strums joyfully into your ears along with some humorous and cheeky lyrics.
The track the album takes its name from is very Cat Stevens-esque vocal and lyric wise; in fact most of the tracks are. The folk story-telling in Passenger comes out here. The melody is sweet and innocent, with soft backing vocals swimming behind Rosenberg’s own. Midway through the song it seems there are almost too many lyrics packed in, but just when it sounds like they will all come spilling over and momentarily disturb the melody, Rosenberg reigns them in with his quick, clever vocals.
Circles is a track that instantly makes you think about your childhood, the lyrics providing such a clear picture of what may or may not be Rosenberg’s own childhood memories.
The way the album flows from song to song (or story to story) is achieved brilliantly. One track might leave you thinking about loves lost or missed opportunities, and the next will have you thinking positive and ready for anything while humming along and tapping your toes.
If anything, I would love to hear Passenger release more tracks with upbeat melodies – the likes of Diamonds on The Flight of the Crow – and I say that because Rosenberg’s voice is so suited to it and has such positive undertones, and after such thoughtful lyrics contemplating life, love and memories, sometimes it’s just good to completely let go, not think too much and get lost in the music! In saying that, I believe the purpose of Passenger’s music is to move the listener – as highlighted so perfectly in the track Life’s For Living – to make you think and feel emotion; to cry and laugh and smile while listening to each track and feeling it can relate to our own lives in some way, and not every artist can do that easily.
Passenger is a sublime artist, lyricist and musician and has all goodness wrapped up in one neat little package being All The Little Lights. Enjoy!