• James Harvey

Album Review: Runaway (Deluxe) - 2018 - Passenger

The Passenger has been on my playlists from his debut album. So, when I hear his 10th album ‘Runaway’ is out, for me, it’s a day one purchase. Was it worth the wait/hype? Well before I get to that, for those of you living under a rock, let me give you a little bit of an introduction.

The Passenger, real name, Michael David Rosenberg, is a singer/songwriter from the county of East Sussex in England, UK. Known for his emotional vocals and personal lyrics about love and loss, he started in the band Passenger, keeping the name when the band split.

In my opinion, the Passenger is one of those rare musicians, we used to call them bards, and they seem to be a dying breed. They are artists who put personal stories and life experience into their music and not just churn out the ‘by the numbers’, machine like dross, that some call music nowadays. While it may not get the songs into the charts, they linger with the listener for years to come and even shape their lives. He is this generations Dylan or Cash.

The album kicks off with the rousing ‘Hell or High Water’ a powerful track about searching for that special someone. A tale of wanting, of searching, but never quite finding. The song itself is in his familiar English folk sound, and a nice way to lead you into the album.

‘Why Can’t I Change’ is a tale of self-reflection as well as something you can immediately relate too. No matter how much you try and smooth those self-flaws out, you always end up repeating the same mistakes.

Slightly ironically given the previous song title however, the familiar sound of his music changes to a more American Roots sound and it really works. Maybe down to the relentless touring he does, the influence of other cultures mixes well with his native folk sound, creating a hybrid that is uplifting as much as it is intriguing. This new influence continues throughout the album.

‘Hear to Love’ and ‘Let’s Go’ keep up with the pace of the previous tracks, both telling personal stories of love and self-learning. ‘He Leaves You Cold’ slows the pace down a little and changes the focus of the album. From stories about love and loss to that feeling of being trapped. While most of us lead a life that follows the rules of society: birth, school, employment, marriage, kids, retire, die. There is that feeling in the back of your mind, that, sometimes you just want to break out and do something that makes you happy. To hell with what is expected of you, you only have one life so live it how you want too.

Slowing the pace right down, ‘Ghost Town’ brings a haunting beauty to the proceedings. A tale of depression, loss, the grimness that can take over our lives sometimes. It really is a beautiful song and another strong example of powerful story telling from an incredible writer.

Picking up the pace with the title track ‘Runaway’, a tale of his nomadic life, we are then taken into ‘Eagle Bear Buffalo’, which really does cement the American Roots influence on the album. It’s another emotionally fueled track as well.

‘To Be Free’ a story of American pilgrims and settlers, mixing memories of the past with current trends of the upheaval across the world, it’s a slow, stirring tale of old. Ending the normal version of the album (or CD 1 of the deluxe version), we have, ‘Survivors’. Sound wise it’s more recognisable in the sense of his past sound. The track spins the tale of coping in your own way when things don’t go to plan and, in my opinion, it’s the stand out track of the album. The one that lingers with me long after the album has stopped.

We are then treated with live versions of the album tracks, recorded from across his American tour. Just to prove a point on how good an artist he is, it’s hard to tell the difference between the studio version and the album version.

‘Runaway’, is a great album, one of his best since Whispers. Emotional, stirring, dreamy and simply beautiful, it’s continues a remarkable body of work from a dying breed of musical artists. Long may he continue!

Runaway is out now on Amazon and all the good streaming sites or as always you can support the artist directly by buying it from his official website.

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