Passenger’s New Album Raises Mixed Feelings


“Young as the Morning, Old as the Sea” is the latest album release by Michael David Rosenberg, better known as Passenger. It is a stunning comeback that marks his return in the indie folk scene and evokes a myriad of vibrant emotions in listeners.

The seventh studio album from the British singer-songwriter starts off with a slow rhythm and soft instrumentals in the first track, “Everything.” Rosenberg joins in a few seconds, adding his iconic, deep and raspy vocals — similar to that of his breakout single, “Let Her Go,” released in 2012. The same mellow theme persists throughout the album, reaching a lively climax halfway through with “Anywhere,” and ending with a raw, heartfelt confession in “Home.”

“Young as the Morning, Old as the Sea” further establishes Rosenberg as a prominent artist in the folk genre with his signature soulful voice, but the repetitive instrumentals and background music ultimately fall short of expectations, and the singles are unmemorable overall. While the somber mood is consistent and well-developed, the recurrent sounds create only a mundane lull in the background.

Two songs that appear early into the album, titled “If You Go” and “When We Were Young,” introduce similar soft, melancholic sounds that turn almost bland from such unvaried technique. However, where the instrumentals lack in individuality, the lyrical aspects shine. By combining his own perspective about love and growing up with intricate metaphorical verses, Rosenberg amazes with his unparalleled finesse in telling stories through song.

The common themes of heartbreak and nostalgia, paired with his remarkable vocal talent, will resonate deeply in young listeners, especially fans of his previous work.

“Beautiful Birds,” a collaboration with fellow folk singer Birdy, is the seventh track in the album and incorporates a charming piano accompaniment to match the reminiscent and youthful spirit of the song. Birdy’s soft and eloquent harmonization is a refreshing contrast to Rosenberg’s deep drawl.

The passionate mood of “Beautiful Birds” is sustained in the songs that follow. In “Fool’s Gold,” the same longing for days past is expressed, but through a different perspective. While the former is about a failed relationship, the latter is more personal, with instances of self-reflection and the resolution that he “won’t ask for fool’s gold anymore,” alluding to the countless times when he has felt ashamed for having high hopes.

The album then comes full circle with “Home,” the finale that brings a different mood, invoking an almost pensive sadness in the listener. In addition to the sonorous acoustics and powerful instrumentals, Rosenberg provides an final song that is nothing short of remarkable, where his vocal versatility is showcased above all else.
“Young as the Morning, Old as the Sea” is an album that is as deeply captivating as it is raw. Rosenberg utilizes his experience in the area of songwriting to create an astounding portfolio of emotional and personal expression in this new album. But although it stays true to Rosenberg’s artistic style, the mediocrity of the instrumentals is underwhelming. The melodic aspects offer little in variation and the choruses as a whole are indistinguishable. However, while the execution of the background sounds is subpar, the heartfelt crooning creates a suitable mood and the lyrics build a cohesive and alluring storyline that appeals to the emotions of listeners of all ages.

By Ashley Liang, Staff writer

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