True, innovative singer/songwriters don’t come along too often these days. Luckily, we’ve been blessed with the presence of Michael Rosenberg, also know as Passenger, hailing from Britain. Possessing an iconic voice, strong rhythm and an extremely fresh and original lyrical prowess, Passenger is an act to keep an eye on.
Passenger’s story is interesting, starting as a quintet for their debut record, which received critical acclaim, but not quite fitting Rosenberg’s vision for the music - in fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a copy of Wicked Man’s Rest these days. Rosenberg’s vision was always a bare essentials approach – a sort of soul-bearing approach that many of the greatest singer/songwriters tend to favor.
All the Little Lights is Passenger’s fourth album working under this back-to-basics approach and it seems the pot is about to boil over. After spending most of his time busking across the UK and Australia to promote the last three records, it appears that those four years of relentless DIY promotion is paying off, as All the Little Lights hit #9 on the Australia charts.
While the singer/songwriter genre has had a rough go of it in the US in recent years, with very few acts breaking through to the mainstream, there does seem to be a bit of renaissance coming as a sort of rebuke to the excesses of the last decade. Rosenberg certainly has the chops to achieve midrange success in the US, at the bare minimum. His voice has just a touch of the gravel that Ray Lamontagne recently made famous and also a little bit of timbre that reminds me of Cat Stevens.
On top of it all, Rosenberg possesses a devilish pen, proving to be a wordsmith’s wordsmith. The tracks on All the Little Lights cover topics from love to politics, but always with tongue firmly planted in cheek, and often times drenched in self deprecation, not unlike compatriot David Ford. This all comes together to form a delightful tapestry of intriguing and engaging stories on the record.
This is definitely the strongest album of its kind to come out of the UK since last year’s Early in the Morning by James Vincent McMorrow and is an album that will find a permanent spot in the rotation.
Favorites include ‘Holes’, ‘The Wrong Direction’, ‘Patient Love’, and ‘The Things that Stop You Dreaming’. Be sure to check out the brilliant ‘I Hate’ down below as well, as Michael Rosenberg speaks what’s on many of our minds.
4.5 Stars – Mick
Get your copy of All the Little Lights from the Passenger store here - both physical and digital copies available.