Turn Me On: Passenger
You know Mike Rosenberg gets asked every day. Every single day. Todos los días. In die una.
Every day the affable singer/songwriter from Brighton, England, gets asked why he records under the name Passenger. And every day he cheerfully explains that he used to be the singer of a full-on band named Passenger, but when they broke up in 2009 he was left with the name so he kept it. Or, you know, words to that effect.
Okay, that’s out of the way so let’s pull the curtain back a little on this Rosenberg guy, this Passenger. First off, if your ear tends to gravitate to the sound made by folks like Cat Stevens, Gordon Lightfoot, David Gray, and/or Bruce Cockburn, then you’d wanna be all over Passenger. And if you’re the type who enjoys being surprised by yet another layer of delicious lyrics on your 37th time listening to a particular song, then you’d wanna be all over Passenger.
Rosenberg knew back in school that music was his calling, and he sorta called his shot by avoiding good grades like anathema before he ultimately dropped out at age 16 to busk across England and Australia. It was on those streets in the UK and Down Under, strumming and singing his songs for whoever stopped to listen, where, as a solo artist named Passenger, he learned how to truly connect with an audience.
And that might be his finest trait.
Never mind that among his revealing acoustic pop, his tunes laced with humor and hope, demonstrating a keen eye for observation and an ease of vulnerability, there are no fillers, no songs that reek of Passenger giving any less than precisely 100% to every detail. The elegance he brings to songs like “Let Her Go,” “Somebody’s Love,” and “Riding to New York,” the naked honesty of “27,” the sociopolitical bent of “Scare Away the Dark,” and crowd faves “I Hate” and “Holes,” all exhibit a master’s skill at song crafting, but even more impressive in Passenger’s arsenal is the way he can walk out in front of 1,800 theatergoers armed with only his guitar, his wit, his confidence, and his songs, and spend the next hour and a half having a one-on-one connection with each and every person there.
As Young as the Morning as Old as the Sea, Passenger’s eighth album since 2007, arrived in September 2016 and brought with it great promise. Promise that a young singer/songwriter who’s been #1 in 20 difference countries and received 1 billion YouTube views (both with “Let Her Go”), who is writing one standout song after another (including the latest CD’s “Somebody’s Love,” “Anywhere,” “Fool’s Gold,” “Home,” and “The Long Road”), who owns crowds the way Springsteen and Bono own crowds, will finally become a household name.
That name is Passenger. Or Mike Rosenberg, he’s good with it either way.
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