Runaway sees Let Her Go hit maker Passenger attempt to thumb across America, with mixed and maudlin results.
It’s been five years since English folk-pop Passenger - aka Mike Rosenberg - had the worldwide smash hit, and his depressing folk-pop formula has stuck across an incredible nine albums.
Here, he does try and trade it in for upbeat Americana roots rock. With his dad hailing from New Jersey, he pays tribute to his heritage with forlorn horns on title track Runaway, slide guitars on Let’s Go and banjo on He Leaves You Cold.
All admirable touches, but it’s all let down by beige lyrics. He’s no Ryan Adams, yearning the likes of ‘He leaves an ice cube in your heart / and a snowflake in your soul.’
Opening track and first single Hell Or High Water is the standout. After coming out of a relationship himself a few years back Rosenberg was on a hopeless quest for answers, and tapping into his own heartbreak helps this country-tinged track soar.
But from a high watermark the rest bleed into each other. He even acknowledges the fact he’s been ‘Preaching to the choir’ on Heart To Love.
The personal touch lifts To Be Free though, accompanied by a striking piano he sings about his dad and his grandparents, who fled Nazi Germany during WWII to France and then to America. A beautiful gem that comes all too late.
Passenger is performing in Auckland at the Powerstation November 13th.
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Released: 31 Aug 2018