This one started with Ed Sheeran. I didn’t become aware of Mike “Passenger” Rosenbaum when he was with the band that gave him is solo artist moniker. I didn’t learn of him because of one of early solo albums either. It wasn’t even through his massive hit single Let Her Go (off All The Little Lights; 2012). In fact, being a fucking music snob who refuses to listen to the charts resulted in me discovering Passenger much later than many (most?) others. But in music the old adage of ‘better late than never‘ definitely holds true. And so it was an almost-busking performance of Passenger’s Heart’s On Fire he did together with Ed Sheeran in Dublin that brought me to Passenger and Passenger to NeverMindTheBuzzkills in early 2013. A year later – and still before Heart’s On Fire was out on the album Whispers – came another video with another version of the song. This time in Australia (for Tram Sessions). This time with Stu Larsen, the vagabond himself. And while the 48,000 clicks (at time of writing) of this version have nothing on the 8 million+ clicks on the video with Ed Sheeran, this was one of my favourite video posts on NMTB:
Of course when I saw the video with Ed Sheeran and subsequently found out about Let Her Go (and the album All The Little Lights), I musically crushed very hard on that song. How could I not? In fact, I loved the song so much that I didn’t just post two absolutely brilliant cover versions of it on NeverMindTheBuzzkills (by Kina Grannis and Hannah Trigwell with Boyce Avenue, respectively) over the next months, but also a single post containing four versions of the song by Passenger himself (the official music video plus three different acoustic performances). But as much as I love those covers and liked that mega-post, the other Passenger-themed video post that remains among my absolute favourites in all those years of NMTB is yet another one. Here, Passenger is the cover artist. And it’s actually from a time before the Let Her Go/All The Little Lights fame.
After joining the Passenger party a little late, but making up for it through many an hour of listening to his music (mostly the 2012 and 2014 records), the conclusion is quite clear: Among the steadily increasing number of great singer-songwriters in the folk pop tradition we’re currently seeing (if you ask me, folk pop hasn’t been as cool as it is now since the early years of one Robert Allen Zimmerman), Passenger is among the best. The voice, the songwriting, the attitude, the biting social commentary in some of his lyrics – yep, here is one we can only hope will stick around for a couple of decades, like good old Zimmerman.
Releases (solo studio albums only):