By the start of last year, Mike Rosenberg knew his life was about to change. To what extent, he had no idea, which was probably just as well. Had someone told the Brighton-born singer/songwriter, familiar to millions as Passenger that he would top the charts in 20 countries during 2013, he might have gone out of his mind.
That his bewitching, break-up ballad Let Her Go took its time to win over the world – it became a hit in mainland Europe in the autumn of 2012 and reached the Top 5 of the Billboard chart in February 2014 – allowed Passenger to process his success, get used to the size of crowds coming to see him and, crucially, continue to write and record heartbreakingly beautiful music.
Whispers is Passenger’s sixth studio album. Its oldest songs date back to before the mayhem began. Although he didn’t know it when he wrote it, the title track captures the chaos in his head when Let Her Go started to snowball. Even the songs most recently written have evolved by being played live dozens of times, at shows and on streets everywhere from Amsterdam to Australia.
What you won’t hear on Whispers is how fame has changed Passenger. Because it hasn’t. The album was recorded in the same small Sydney studio as its platinum-selling predecessor, All The Little Lights, with the same co-producer (Chris Vallejo) and many of the same musicians. Despite its sumptuous, symphonic sound, no big budgets were blown.
In total, it took just five weeks to record.
What you will hear are stories - some real, some imagined - of love, death, growing up and getting old. And on Scare Away The Dark, already a fan favourite, a riotous rant about technology taking over our lives that proves Passenger can be as laugh-out-loud funny on record as he is telling tales on stage.
“This is easily the most ‘up’ album I’ve ever made,” says the 29 year old. “It’s quite cinematic. There are lots of big stories and big ideas. There are also some sombre moments about loneliness and death but, hey, it wouldn’t be a Passenger album without those. Mostly though, it’s a really positive album.”
Those big stories and big ideas required a big sound. Hence, Whispers boasts brass and strings that build to tremendous crescendos and, as Passenger puts it, “a bunch of people on backing vocals.”