Passenger releases his 13th studio album Songs For The Drunk and Broken Hearted, a somewhat fitting record for the current times
36 year old singer-songwriter Passenger ‘Mark Rosenberg’ from Brighton, swapped the busking scene for the recording studio in 2009, not expecting to release an international chart-topping record not long after in 2015, with his most successful track to date ‘Let her go’; this soon made him a household name.
Passenger is now back with his 13th album Songs For The Drunk and Broken Hearted which from start to end is not lacking the recognizable, unique, beloved sound we expect from Mark Rosenberg. From start to end we are treated to his poetic lyrical lines, his folky guitar and gently, airy piano rifts, it’s no surprise that many label him as the master of melody and indie-folk treasure.
This new release is far from an album of happy, upbeat tracks ( which is a rare occurrence from Passenger anyway ), but instead offers the listener a collection of touching and melancholy ballads, with this likely to be his most heartwarming album yet. The record was intended for release in May 2020, but due to the pandemic, he took the decision to delay this, and instead went on to write more music over the lockdown period. The influence of the whirlwind that has been of the past 12 months is evident within Mark’s writing, as he explores the trials and challenges that life has put upon all of us. None of us have been able to escape the hardship that we have been faced with, and Passenger allows us to dive deep into our emotions that we are occurring on a daily basis, with an exceptionally written and thought out work of art.
‘Sword from the Stone’ is the star song and single of the album and is as well worthy opening track, which sets the mood for the rest to follow. This was notably a lockdown addition to the record, with very hard-hitting, close to home lyrics that are very relatable with the current times. From start to end Passenger has successfully managed to create a sense of reality and add a personal touch within his very well crafted words, ‘Time flies, then it’s so slow, I’m up and down’; all of the lyrics in this song are touching, but this line, in particular, is describing a feeling of social isolation that everyone can resonate with.
Passenger has done a great job of complimenting the lyrics with a simple but effective musical accompaniment, that doesn’t take away the focus of the words. Despite the overall slow and somber vibe with a gradual melodic piano line and a gripping acoustic pop-folk played guitar rhythm, the music has gradual energy moving forward, with a build-up of a nice blend of sounds for the climax. The angelic guitar solo, which is made to sound very much like a synth pad allows the listener to get lost in their emotions. Despite the situation behind the songs, the chorus is extremely catchy showing a great resemblance to his greatest hit ‘Let her go’, and definitely has the potential to be his next.
The title track ‘A song for Drunk and Broken Hearted’ brings a slightly quicker tempo and drive than some of the others on the album, it’s also the song that inspired the artwork for the release, which is based around losing control of yourself after being left heartbroken. Passenger opened up recently to the media about the difficulties he experienced in lockdown after going through a tough breakup, and the slippery downwards path that he found himself on. In a recent interview with Glide Magazine, he told them that he ‘started to view the album as kind of a handbook oh how to get through that time’.
Passenger isn’t an artist who likes to make the songs solely about his experiences but instead, he creates characters that the listeners can go on a journey with and can relate with. There are two main characters whose presence is felt throughout the album, but their individual stories are told in the tearjerker ‘Suzanne’ and ‘Remember to Forget’, with both the characters reminiscing on the life they have lived. Both of these songs are beautifully written about the ups and downs of life, with Passenger creating characters who are both drunk and broken-hearted in their own way ‘they took the narrative out of my personal experience and broadened the theme of the album’.
Another song that stands out, and is worth a mention is ‘London in the Spring’, this is the closing track of the album and is a lovely one to end. Compared to how the album began in a somber and more serious mood, Passenger ends his 13th studio album in a positive way with a song that portrays nothing less than hope and happiness. With quirky, melodic guitar rifts and lighthearted lyrics, ‘it’s hopeless to be hopeful any more, But I’m not sure I agree, I’m hoping love will find us’, Passenger gives us hope within this poetry of what we can look forward to after these strange times have passed.
Mark Rosenberg used his experiences with breakups and the feeling of loneliness within a pandemic to create an album so in tune with these strange times, but at the same time allowing us to see a light at the end of the tunnel, making this his finest, focused and matured album of his career.
Words by Louise Carter