Passenger’s lightly sweetened folk-pop oozes with romance—even when he’s detailing the painful experience of letting go. Born Michael David Rosenberg in 1984, the Brighton, England native took classical guitar lessons as a kid and eventually brought those skills to the streets to busk around England and Australia after leaving home at age 16. Upon returning to Brighton, he co-founded the folk-rock band Passenger in 2003. They released just one album before calling it quits, but Rosenberg, the group’s main songwriter, stuck with the name. He officially went solo as Passenger in 2009 with Wide Eyes Blind Love, a stripped-down acoustic set evoking the intimate storytelling of David Gray. Since, he’s been highly prolific, releasing 10 albums in his first decade alone, carefully tweaking his sound every step of the way. The slow-building “Let Her Go,” a bittersweet ballad of life’s inevitable ironies from 2012’s All the Little Lights, pushed him into the international spotlight—an opening spot on Ed Sheeran’s tour certainly helped, too. Still, Rosenberg’s remained firmly indebted to his folk roots, letting his strengths shine in the details: the gentle fingerpicking of the aptly titled “Simple Song,” the nimble percussion of the upbeat “Anywhere,” or the cinematic string arrangements that cushion the heartbreak and enhance the sanguine reveries permeating 2019’s Sometimes It’s Something, Sometimes It’s Nothing At All. Throughout, it’s his playful poeticism—and his tremulous croons, which crackle with a warm, boyish charm—that make even his saddest revelations sound so comforting.
BORNMay 17, 1984