Whispers is the latest offering from British folk-rock singer-songwriter Passenger and, as reviewer Jess Layt found out, it’s a peaceful, joyful musical venture of creative lyrics and simple melodies.
With a voice of boyish innocence falling somewhere between James Blunt and Ed Sheeran, Passenger has created with his fourth album Whispers a musical tome that begs to be heard while snuggled up inside a warm blanket with a cup of tea and a few biscuits.
Passenger, the professional persona of English musician Mike Rosenberg, last year garnered critical and commercial success with his song Let Her Go topping the Australian charts on the back of his tour supporting fellow British singer-songwriter Sheeran.
It's easy to see why Passenger and Sheeran toured together — they share a similar way with words and respect for the power of voice and strings, without overproduction.
Whispers' first song, Coins in a Fountain, is a positive, upbeat opener to a rather contemplative album. It is beautifully composed with soft, folksy guitar melodies perfectly accompanying, not overpowering, the gentle vocal delivery that is unmistakably Passenger.
27 is full of honest, impeccably rhymed personal truths, of Passenger reaching his 27th birthday and taking stock of what he's done so far, with lyrics like "five proper girlfriends and five messy breakups" and "written 600 songs, only 12 get sung".
Light Up the Dark, Start a Fire, and single release Heart's on Fire are the standouts, with the latter two also beautifully featured as acoustic bonus tracks on the second disc.
The physical album is an enticement to buy. It's designed like an old-fashioned children's storybook and it has a delightful pop-up tree when opened, with a mix of song lyrics and charming drawings.
Lyrics from the title track appear prominently inside the cover: "All I need's a whisper in a world that only shouts."
Passenger is a profoundly simple lyricist.
Lyrically, he sounds like a friendly, relatable guy, singing about nothing overly life-changing, but with themes that make sense, that tap into that universal part of our brains which experiences regret, joy, pain and loneliness.
The man-and-his-guitar feel of the album is more than just a collected sound — it's a wonderful experience. People will be drawn in by the delicate vocals that ponder life with all its humour and commonality.
Passenger is an artist in control of his sound and his message. He doesn't go for the popular hook, for the catchy phrase that will catapult him to stardom but rather writes what he feels and what he observes as honestly as he can.
Whispers is available on CD and download now through Black Crow Records.