Passenger – All The Little Lights

In today’s music industry, with the advent of YouTube, Kickstarter, Bandcamp, and others, it’s becoming a crowded place. It becomes more and more difficult to distinguish yourself from other artists. If you’re an indie rock band, you can add a violin, some brass, an accordion, harmonica, banjo, or mandolin to sound a little different. If you’re a singer-songwriter, it’s nearly impossible to make yourself stand out. When you do, like the UK’s Passenger, the moniker of Mike Rosenberg, it’s a noteworthy accomplishment in itself. When you create a truly special album, you deserve to be thought of in a different category.

All The Little Lights, the newest album from Passenger, is, musically, pretty much what you’d expect a talented British singer-songwriter to sound like. But lyrically, this album is a work of brilliance. Rosenberg has crafted an album that is poetry set to music in a way that I haven’t seen in a long, long time. From the first track to the bonus tracks, this album shows that to stand out in a crowded field, it’s best to be a singer-SONGWRITER, not the other way around.

“The Things That Stop Your Dreaming” is the type of song that would be a career defining song, the song that makes people buy an album. It’s a perfect song with a perfect chorus, one that understands pain and how to overcome it. “Well, if you can’t get what you love,/ you learn to love the things you’ve got./ If you can’t be what you want,you learn to be the things you’re not./ If you can’t get what you need,/ you learn to need the things that stop you dreaming.” It’s the first of many personal, cathartic, confession type songs.

The next track is “Let Her Go”, again a song about what it means to love, to care, to hurt, and to move on. To here this song and not feel the sadness portrayed in the music and lyrics is to never have felt love before. There’s something so personal about this song, that I imagine that it’s difficult to sing to an audience.

Staring at the ceiling in the dark
Same old empty feeling in your heart
‘Cause love comes slow and it goes so fast.
Well, you see her when you fall asleep
But never to touch and never to keep
‘Cause you loved her too much and you dive too deep.

Well you only need the light when it’s burning low.
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow.
Only know you love her when you let her go.
Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low.
Only hate the road when you’re missing home.
Only know you love her when you let her go.
And you let her go.

“The Wrong Direction” is another song that sounds like a confession, one that sings of the realization of looking for love “in the wrong direction”. “Life’s For The Living”, yet another song that could easily be a song of the year, is another song that could be preachy, but manages to avoid that by providing a message that you never get tired of hearing. “Don’t you cry for the lost, smile for the living./ Get what you need and give what you’re given./ Life’s for the living, so live it, or you’re better off dead.”

The studio portion of the album ends with “Feather on the Clyde” and it’s a perfect way to end an album. After a mix of upbeat and mellow songs, Rosenberg ends with a perfectly composed mellow song that almost sounds like a goodnight. “Well I would swim but the river is so wide,/ And I’m scared I won’t make it to the other side./ Well, God knows I’ve failed but He knows that I’ve tried.” With an ending like that, and lyrics like those above, it’s clear that Passenger is in a league of his own. All The Little Lights is a nearly a flawless album, one that redeems your faith in the often over-saturated genre of singer-songwriter and one that will, undoubtedly, find a way to speak to you personally.

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