The trajectory of Michael David Rosenberg’s career – known by stage name Passenger – is at a tricky junction. The indie folk artist hit his peak of fame in 2012 with All The Little Lights and it’s second single ‘Let Her Go’ which achieved dozens of number one spots worldwide. Now, three albums later, his time for innovation has come. And yet, his latest album Young as the Morning, Old as the Sea feels like familiar ground.
A sense of wanderlust permeates this album, we find tracks littered with images of rustic vistas, long drives and a longing for the wider world. Both ‘Young as the Morning, Old as the Sea’ and ‘The Long Road’ dream of the sights of Europe and the fickleness of time, though sadly in a rather systematic fashion. It is here that the downfall of the album begins. Songs blend into one another without clear distinction, and you can’t escape the feeling that the material that inspired this album has been overstretched.
Indeed, this album misses many golden opportunities. On paper, Birdy and Passenger singing together should be a match made in heaven, but sadly ‘Beautiful Bird’ doesn’t deliver. The stunning sound of this pair combined deserves so much more than the downhearted track we are left with.
The singular highlight of this album is undeniably ‘Anywhere’. Yet again we hear that yearning for travel, but packaged into a truly irresistible song. One listen of this track can kick the melancholy right out of you, and you’ll be packing your suitcase by listen three. Its sunny sound is the pinnacle of an otherwise plain album. A few brighter moments do pop up, however. What shot Passenger to fame was the earnest and lovelorn song writing that defined top singles ‘Heart’s On Fire’ and ‘Let Her Go’, the echoes of which we can still hear in ‘Fool’s Gold’. Whilst the original is a touch overproduced, the acoustic version brings out Passenger’s true colours in all their glory.
Sadly, the gentle yearning and far-flung feel of this album seems stretched thin, and much of the music sounds frustratingly alike. There is a desperate need for depth, clarity and a return to the sincere approach heard on Passenger’s earlier albums. Young as the Morning, Old as the Sea should have been a defining moment, an album to break boundaries or return firmly to basics, but instead remains a missed opportunity.