The thirty-year old singer from the UK, Michael Rosenberg, is not new to the record industry. His new studio album, Whispers, is out now following the success of his forth album, All The Little Lights. Michael, now known as Passenger, was the lead vocalist of a band of the same name which disbanded after their only album, Wicked Man’s Rest, was released in 2007.
After the release of the second single off Lights, “Let Her Go”, Passenger has become a big music player worldwide. The single hit number-one in over nineteen countries, and number five on the Hot 100 in the US. The song has sold over 3.9 million downloads in the US and over 3 million in the rest of the world, making it one of the best-selling singles of 2013-2014.
Rosenberg has been independently releasing albums before breaking into the music industry as he became a popular busker, or street performer, around Australia and England. [[Here you can watch an interview]] prior to the success of the single where he discusses his nomadic life.
The new album hit number five in the UK, number two in Australia and number twelve on the Billboard 200.
Mike’s lyrics really resonate with the masses. He croons ‘staring at the ceiling in the dark, same old empty feeling in your heart. Cause love comes slow, but it goes so fast’ in “Let Her Go”, and ‘The first cut is the deepest but the rest still flipping hurt. You build your heart of plastic, you’re cynical and sarcastic, and end up in the corner on your own’ in “The Wrong Direction”.
The new album does not shy away from irreverence. In the recent single “Scare Away the Dark” he sings ‘We wish were happier, thinner and fitter, we wish we weren’t losers and liars and quitters, we want something more than just nasty and bitter, we want something real not just hashtags and Twitter. It’s the meaning of life and it’s streamed live on YouTube. But I bet “Gangnam Style” will still get more views. We’re scared of drowning, flying and shooters. But we’re all slowly dying in front of computers’.
The music video sees Michael singing as he enters an office building, with the intent of persuading the people inside to leave and live outside those walls. The crowd eventually winds up consumed in the beauty and excitement of nature and wind up disrobing as they run and play in nature.
The meaning behind it is not a new concept, but one that is not considered by today’s music-buyers, video-watchers, internet-prone audience which is tangled in the concepts of celebrity to disappear from an unfulfilling life because of lackluster economic, social and cultural expectations.
In the [[title track]] he repeats toward the end ‘Everyone’s filling me up with noise, I don’t know what they’re talking about…You see all I need’s a whisper in a world that only shouts’.
Lyrics are a big part of Passenger’s allure. In “Coins in a Fountain” he says ‘Hate is poison, love is a remedy. Hope is a ghost in the deepest of melodies, Stronger than ten of me. Fear is the enemy’. The rhythmic opening appears as the soundtrack to a Caribbean, naturist adventure.
In “27” he rapidly and joyfully sings ‘Twenty seven years now, only thing I know, I know that I don’t know how to please everybody all of the time, cause everybody’s always f**king changing their minds. Written six hundred songs and only twelve get sung’. The strings on here are gorgeously added as instrumentals.
“Hearts on Fire” keeps the string as “Bullets” brings a country vibe with a banjo and harmonica. “Fire” is a demure song, but the upbeat “Bullets” is a melancholic story of talismans being taken away,
“Golden Leaves” is another moody romantic track, with soothing instrumental. And “Thunder” balances it out with upbeat drums and guitar riffs. In it he sings with gusto saying ‘Hey I go chasing thunder, go dancing under, go falling free. Hey I go running in circles, like baby turtles, down to the sea!’.
“Rolling Stone” has a lullaby feel to it. The symbolism of water and nature persist as he utters ‘But I fear I’ve grown a rolling stone inside of me. She said ‘oh, don’t you know? The rolling stones stop at the sea”. And that’s where I’ll be”.
“Start a Fire” and “Riding to New York” are story-telling at their best. Both discussing distances, nature and self-sabotage via substance abuse and decay.
Whispers stands tall as one of the best folk, singer-songwriter albums so far in 2014, with depth, charisma, and longevity.
Films: Kumu Hina (documentary) : Southern Baptist Sissies, the movie : OFIR (documentary) : Ne Te Retourne Pas (short) : Halina (short) : EK (short) : Despite The Gods (documentary) : Materica (short) : Lawrence and Hollowman, the movie : No Strangers (documentary) : Meth Head, the movie : Echoes (short) : Titans of Newark (short) : A Cure (short) : Precious, the movie : This Is It (documentary)
Music: Birdy’s Fire Within : Melanie Martinez’s The Dollhouse : Peter Aristone’s 19 Days in Tetbury : Lykke Li’s I Never Learn : Neon Trees’ Pop Psychology : Rufus Wainwright’s Rufus Wainwright: Live from the Artists Den : Lily Allen’s Sheezus : Ingrid Michaelson’s Lights Out : Kelis’ Food : The Sounds’ Weekend : Austra’s Olympia : KENN’s We Killed KENN : VV Brown’s Samson & Delilah : Sammy Crawford’s Reality Sets In : Melanie C’s Stages : Madonna’s MDNA : Nelly Furtado’s Spirit Indestructible : CocoRosie’s “We Are On Fire” : Stephan Nance’s A Troubled Piece of Fruit
Videos: KENN’s “Still Pretty” : Christina Aguilera’s “Your Body” : Tom Goss’ “It’s All Over” : Eric Himan’s “Dust” : Scissor Sisters’ “Only The Horses”
Concerts: Ellie Goulding : The Sounds with Blondfire & Strange Talk : Natasha Bedingfield : Andy Grammer : Kate Voegele
Stand Up: Kevin J Thornton