Every once in a while in the music world a slow burning success story comes along that warms the cockles of your heart and restores your faith in the notion that persistence and staying true to yourself as an artist will pay off and you will get your just rewards.
This week, after 10 years of hard graft and releasing 5 wonderful albums, Brighton based singer/songwriter Mike Rosenberg, aka Passenger, finally got the widespread recognition he deserves as his song ‘Let Her Go’ made number 4 on the UK singles chart.
I have been a fan of Passenger since around 2005 where he went by the more straight forward name of The Mike Rosenberg Band. A good friend of mine from Brighton had turned me onto him as she was a personal friend of his and knew that his songs would strike a chord with me. She wasn’t wrong. Rosenberg’s unique voice; warm, welcoming, honey sweet in tone, soulful and emotive, sat perfectly against his beautifully melodious acoustic songs, the likes of which I am a complete sucker for.
At the time at only age 21, Rosenberg’s songwriting already possessed a maturity that bellied his years and tracks such as the the sublime ‘Walk In The Rain’ and the deeply confessional ‘Table For One’ sounded so perfectly complete they still remain my two favourite songs that Rosenberg has ever penned.
Rosenberg’s songcraft possesses that rare quality of being able to effortlessly transcend all musical genres and appeal to people on an emotional level. He is a classic storyteller of human emotion, coupling heartfelt lovelorn honesty with humourous witticisms, wearing his heart on his sleeve with accessible lyrics easy for people to relate to whether they be 65 year old bearded folkies or 15 year old teenage girls. This is why, thankfully, the British public have finally woken up to the sound of one of our best songwriters 10 years into his career.
After Passenger’s debut album ‘Wicked Mans Rest’ finally emerged in 2007 to decent critical acclaim, the band that had been playing together for a number of years disbanded and Rosenberg decided to continue to use the Passenger name as he embarked on his solo career. Over the next few years Rosenberg based himself in Australia and released 3 more albums, 2009′s Wide Eyes Blind Love, 2010′s ’Flight Of The Crow’ which was recorded with a number of Australian indie artists that remains my personal favourite of his, and a fan only limited edition album called ‘Divers and Submarines’ from the same year.
Just under a year ago he released ‘All the Little Lights’, an album that provided the springboard for how his career has finally taken off and is probably the most complete of all the albums he has released thus far. The most enamouring thing about Passenger albums is the unmistakeable identity he stamps on his songs and while you always know what you are going to get, his wondrous way with melody and emotion never fails to connect.
Since the release of ‘All The Little Lights’ the momentum has been gradually building and it appeared to galvanise Rosenberg and the sleeper cells of fans around the world who sensed that this was now his time. In what was probably his most career defining moment he bagged a high profile support slot with Ed Sheeran on his UK tour that set the foundations for his current success, introducing him to area sized audiences who were completely oblivious to him initially but came away from those gigs as fans. The hard work he had been carrying out in the southern hemisphere was paying off and early in 2013 he found his song ‘Let Her Go’ topping both the Australian and the New Zealand charts. Mainland Europe soon followed with the song hitting number 1 in Belgium, Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Ireland. By this point it was now impossible for UK radio and the music press at large to ignore him any longer and ‘Let Her Go’ all of a sudden found itself playlisted on UK radio stations resulting in the fabulous success and recognition that he is currently enjoying.
It is with stories like this that the power of social media, in particular an artists Facebook page, can really come into its own. Passenger’s success plays out in a ’This Is Your Life’ style narrative and his Facebook page is a heartwarming record of the success he has been enjoying in the last year. The below picture taken a couple of months ago, sums up how far he has come as an artist in the last couple of years and should be an inspiration to the thousands of singer/songwriters out there that relentlessly ply their trade every day in the hope that their songs will be embraced on a wider scale. Passenger is an artist completely free of pretension, busking in the cities in which he plays, keeping that intimate connection between performer and audience that he has spent years building and it could not have happened to a more humble and affable songwriter. So if like many you have been taken in by ‘Let Her Go’ then his past albums are a treasure trove of wonderfully constructed acoustic songs that share a timeless quality that will ensure that Passenger remains one of the UK’s finest singer/songwriters. Embrace his music and jump on board.
“Australia and New zealand -
I really don’t know where to start …. the last couple of months has been completely ridiculous …. from touring with ed to doing my own sold out headline shows . to be able to go busking again has been wonderful and to have so many of you turn up for it has been a dream come true .
let her go is now no 1 in nz and has been no 1 in the aria charts for two weeks !!!! i never dreamed this could actually happen !!!
from the bottom of my heart , thank you all so so much for supporting me and my music . it means more than i could ever say .
here is a hilarious picture of me busking in pitt st in jan 2011 and beneath it , a picture of me busking in the same spot a couple of days ago ….. loads of love . mike x”