mon 01/03/2021

Album: Passenger – Songs for the Drunk and Broken Hearted | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Passenger – Songs for the Drunk and Broken Hearted

Album: Passenger – Songs for the Drunk and Broken Hearted

Former Brighton busker lacks hidden depths

Lockdown easy listening from Mike Rosenberg

The tears of a clown is a familiar enough metaphor – a cliché, perhaps – and as an image it adorns the sleeve of the latest album by Mike Rosenberg, better known as Passenger, the platinum-selling former Brighton busker.

The tears of a clown is a familiar enough metaphor – a cliché, perhaps – and as an image it adorns the sleeve of the latest album by Mike Rosenberg, better known as Passenger, the platinum-selling former Brighton busker. Scheduled originally for release last May, Songs for the Drunk and Broken Hearted is his twelfth solo album and it was partially rewritten in lockdown, the tears for a relationship that ended just before.

New songs written in solitary replace those which no longer fit, among them “Sword from the Stone”, which in an appealing acoustic version launched Passenger’s fireside YouTube Isolation Sessions. Three songs have since been released as elegantly atmospheric videos, all late-night sad cafes and bars, and reflections on better days: the title track; “Suzanne”, the story of a middle-aged bar-fly (“who do you see when the mask comes off/with your red-wine teeth and your smoker’s cough”); and “Remember to Forget”, about a tiresome drunk. “London In the Spring”, the song which closes the album, is appealing, featuring some nice instrumental touches, a cello counterpointing the repeated guitar riff, strings and brass adding a light touch.  

Many will know Passenger only for “Let Her Go”, the Ivor Novello-winning number whose chart-topping success in 16 countries stemmed from his playing support to 60,000 a night on a world tour by Ed Sheeran, which seems strange given the intimacy of his writing and performance style. There’s more than a hint of Sheeran (another of the 21st century’s overrated talents) in the voice, but also of Ryan Adams. The electric guitar work recalls The Smiths and The Cure, both Passenger faves. His own acoustic fingerpicking is thoughtful and delicate (“The Way That I Love You”), the childhood classical guitar lessons a good investment.

Having played this album on and off for a couple of weeks, I’ve come to feel it’s not a keeper. Well-crafted and well-played, it’s yet another slice of singer-songwriter easy listening that provides pleasant enough company during our long, lonesome lockdown – but it’s not profound, and repeated listening reveals no hidden depths, lyrically or musically. And Passenger’s accent (confected or natural, I still can’t decide) grates. For some reason I keep thinking of a Bob Dylan line: “Little boy lost, he takes himself so seriously…”

Well-crafted and well-played, it’s yet another slice of singer-songwriter easy listening

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Average: 2 (1 vote)

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