Personnel: Mike Rosenberg (vocals, acoustic guitar); Marianne Broadfoot, Kerry Martin (violin); Shelley Sorenson (viola); Rowena Macneish (cello); James Greening (clarinet, saxophone); Matthew Keegan (woodwinds, brass); Nick Garbett (trumpet, trombone); Stu Larsen, Geraldine Hollett, Phil Churchill, Andrew Dale, The Once, Georgia Mooney (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Chris Vallejo.
Recording information: Abbey Road Studios, London, UK; Germano Studios, New York, NY; Linear Recording Studios, Sydney, Australia.
British singer/songwriter Mike Rosenberg, otherwise known as Passenger, continues exploring the broader sonic palette he developed on 2012's All the Little Lights with his sixth studio album, 2014's Whispers. As he did last time, Rosenberg once again teamed up with All the Little Lights producer Chris Vallejo. Together, they deliver a batch of evocative acoustic folk and indie pop songs that are often expanded with orchestral flourishes. That said, Rosenberg's main instrument of choice here is still the acoustic guitar, and all the songs on Whispers retain the Brighton-based artist's core intimacy. Influenced by both traditional British folk and more modern singer/songwriters, Rosenberg's work here falls somewhere between the earnest classicism of Mumford & Sons and the contemporary pop of Ed Sheeran. Vocally, he has a distinctively poignant chirp of a voice that sounds something akin to an elf who stayed up all night smoking, drinking, and sharing stories with friends. Which isn't to say he sounds wizened, just world-weary and steeped in a kind of twee ennui. Whether he's singing about growing older ("27") or delving into a poetic allegory about loneliness ("Bullets"), Rosenberg has a knack for intimate revelations that still read as universal. He also has a gift for melody, and cuts like the melancholy "Heart's on Fire" and the similarly hushed "Rolling Stone," with its Van Morrison-esque woodwind backgrounds, are pleasantly enjoyable songs, perfect for introspective listening on warm summer afternoons. Ultimately, with Whispers, Rosenberg has crafted an album of sweet, hummable anthems for tender-hearted troubadours everywhere. ~ Matt Collar