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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

December 16, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Review: Passenger’s latest album delivers powerful lyricism

Passenger

"Young As The Morning, Old As The Sea"

English singer-songwriter Michael David Rosenberg, better known by his stage name Passenger, released his eighth studio album “Young As The Morning, Old As The Sea” on Sept. 23, about four years after the release of his hit “Let Her Go.” While the album is an enjoyable listen and delivers quality lyrics that Passenger is known for, it lacks musical diversity as a whole.

The record stays true to the artist’s stripped-down, indie-folk music style from the very first song. Most of the tracks just feature a guitar and Passenger’s distinctive vocals, with the occasional piano or violin, but rarely feature strong percussion. Though one can appreciate an artist staying consistent with his or her sound, the problem with this album is that most of the tracks sound nearly identical. After listening for long enough, many of the tracks start to monotonously blend together as though they are one continuous hourlong song.

Though there isn’t anything distinctly special about it, the album is still a pleasure to listen to. It is evident that lyrical songwriting is largely where Passenger’s strength lies. Despite the repetition of the sound on the album, his skilled use of lyrics is not lost.

The track “When We Were Young” is one of the best on the album lyrically. It allows listeners to reminisce on a more carefree time of youth, with lines like, “We used to never say never / used to think we’d live forever / flying free beneath the sun.” The artist tries to bring the listener on a journey through a meaningful, simpler time of his past.

“Beautiful Birds,” featuring indie-folk artist Birdy, is the record’s standout single. With ethereal instrumentals and lovely harmonies from the pair of singers, it is the most different from the other songs on the album. Their vocals especially complement each other in a stunning way — though almost all of the songs on the album elicit strong emotions with sentimental lyrics, “Beautiful Birds” strikes the strongest chord with listeners. It is the most lyrically and musically coherent; all the elements of the song come together perfectly to create something beautiful.

The album’s overall sound can be described as peaceful, but it’s not catchy. “Anywhere,” the second single released from “Young As The Morning, Old As The Sea,” is the most, and essentially the only, upbeat song on the album which maintains an intense rhythm and beat. While nearly every other track has an acoustic, slow vibe, “Anywhere” features electric guitar and prominent percussion. The single is reminiscent of 70s indie-pop music. It is the most exciting song on the entire album.

Despite the fact that this album lacks any notable innovation, it does not fall entirely flat, thanks to Passenger’s talent as a lyricist. “Young As The Morning, Old As The Sea” has a few special and distinct tracks, but as a whole, it is not a record to jam to on a long road trip. Rather, it is better suited to play at low volume in the background on a rainy fall day spent reading a book and sipping some coffee or tea.