"Whispers II" is the sixth studio album from British recording artist Passenger. It was released on 19 April 2015 in different countries, through Black Crow Records. All profits from the album will go towards UNICEF UK. The album was produced by Mike Rosenberg and Chris Vallejo.
User Album Review
Passenger has been a part the folk scene for years now, and while his songs have never been terribly deviant or off the beaten trail, Mike Rosenberg has managed to pump out fun and infectious folk diddies that keep me coming back. Rosenberg's 2014 effort Whispers was the result of him mastering his style that he has been perfecting over the years. His blend of signature acoustics and beautiful supplemental instrumentation (saxophone, choir, trumpet etc.) made for a perfect 'sitting around the campfire' summer album, and ended up being one of my most listened to records of last year. Now one year later, we have a collection of songs originally recorded during the Whispers sessions.
It is generally safe to assume that when an artist releases an album full of tracks that didn't make the cut of an album, it will be of lesser quality, and while Whispers II isn't as consistently solid as its predecessor, it still contains quite a few standout tracks that could have easily made it on to the first Whispers album. This is an extremely impressive release, especially since it's essentially a collection of B-sides. The fact that Rosenberg ended up having an entire album's worth of extra songs at the end of his Whispers sessions is highly commendable.
One of the best elements of Passenger's music is the instruments he adds on top of the acoustic guitar and vocals; it can turn a good song into a great one (Rolling Stone, Coins in a Fountain), and adds an extra element of intrigue to his tracks. This continues to be true on Whispers II, with tracks like Catch in the Dark and Travelling Alone benefitting from southern and country influenced harmonicas and steel guitar, and A Thousand Matches being enhanced by its fun, borderline goofy horn section. Other tracks are more effective with a stripped down feel; Fear of Fear's dreary emotional tone is complimented beautifully by nothing but quiet piano behind the guitar and vocals. There's a clear understanding here of when to build a track up with added instrumentation, and when to hold back.
Mike Rosenberg has a wheelhouse that he sticks to. The same handful of chords and picking patterns that he gravitates towards dominate the majority of this album (the chorus of Nothing's Changed is essentially identical to Life's For The Living), and the lyrics are still extremely sentimental and cheesy ("I'm a tear drop in an ocean of flames", "We just smile because sometimes words aren't the right words to say"), but that's completely okay. There is something inherently charming about Mike's heart-on-his-sleeve attitude and simple-yet-sweet acoustics. The songs are nothing new, and definitely won't be lauded as innovative, but the passion and honesty Rosenberg pours into every one of these tracks make it worth a listen for those who enjoy traditional sounding, easy-listening folk tunes. His songs appeal to starry-eyed romantics, which I suppose is why I enjoy it so much.
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