Michael Rosenberg’s latest LP, ‘Young As The Morning Old As the Sea’ offers the same kind of experience as his previous works but falls a little short. That is, enjoyable, hummable folk songs that seem to venture into pop territory at times. Unlike on his 7th studio album, Whispers II, Passenger strays from the rawness of his acoustic guitar and voice alone on his newest offering. Here, a band of musicians back the former Brighton busker up and orchestral sounds help to lift some of the blander songs.
After listening to the full album right through you come to thinking Passenger is going through some kind of mid-life crisis. He sings of longing to travel on the title track but notes that he’s ‘fleeting like fireworks fading too soon,’ mourns his youth on ‘When We Were Young’ and seems to lament lost love on the opening track, ‘cause everything is nothing ’til you’ve got somebody to share it with / somebody to have / somebody to hold.’
Perhaps Passenger was pining over a lost lover when crafting this record. ‘Beautiful Birds’ (featuring Scottish songstress Birdy ironically) is a melancholy break up tune with touching lyrics while on ‘Somebody’s Love’ Rosenberg seems to warn us to keep those we love close to us, ‘oh when the winds they blow / you’re gonna need somebody to know you / you’re gonna need somebody’s love to fall into.’ ‘The Long Road’ seems to confirm our suspicions as he sings, ‘You found love but you left without it.’
Unfortunately, these melancholy songs seem to drag as Passenger hasn’t managed to notate his introspective thoughts about life and love as astutely and as wittingly as usual. Thankfully, for all the loneliness and sadness that seems to permeate the lyrics of the album, the music isn’t all minor chords and gloom – ‘Anywhere’, for example, is an upbeat and fun track that lifts the mood.
Though it’s an enjoyable and pleasant listen, overall the record is nowhere near as clever and captivating as some of his previous work. However, something tells me Rosenberg won’t be bothered too much by the negative reviews of his latest release. As he sang himself on his album ‘Whispers’ just two years ago, ‘I write songs that come from the heart / I don’t give a fuck if they get into the charts.’
Maybe ‘Young As The Morning Old As The Sea’ isn’t the most affecting of albums, certainly it won’t win any Grammy’s, but perhaps its charm is in its refusal to cater for the critics and just simply be a pleasant listen.
Rating: 6.5 / 10
Passenger will return to Vicar Street, Dublin on the 2nd and 3rd of December 2016