by: Passenger

Singer/songwriter Mike Rosenberg, aka Passenger, celebrates his American roots and embraces a twangy, wide-ranging sound in the process on his 2018 album, Runaway. Although born in Brighton, England, Rosenberg, whose father was originally from New Jersey (his mother is British), grew up with a strong emotional connection to the States. Consequently, he's as influenced by artists like Ireland's Van Morrison as he is Arizona's Calexico. The album, which follows up his equally outdoorsy Young as the Morning Old as the Sea and acoustic album The Boy Who Cried Wolf, finds Rosenberg bridging his transatlantic inspirations, digging even deeper into his eclectic folk-rock sound. Whereas last time Rosenberg and longtime producer Chris Vallejo dressed his yearning, melodic anthems in orchestral flourishes, here they take a rootsier approach, weaving in banjo on "Hell or High Water," pedal steel on "Let's Go," and tube amp-laden electric guitar on "Heart to Love." There's even warm mariachi-style brass on the title track. However, for fans of Passenger's more baroque, British-sounding productions, Rosenberg still makes room for intimate moments like his acoustic-guitar-and-string-section ballad "Ghost Town" and the similarly ruminative piano-based number "To Be Free." The latter track is also explicitly biographical, detailing his parents' story, and how their meeting has led him on his own journey. He sings "Now here I am, 33 years old, 2017/I've seen the Rhineland/I've been to Vineland/I'm a feather on the breeze." Ultimately, it's that openhearted sense of discovery and road-going on Runaway that sticks with you. It's as if Rosenberg is taking you along with him on his cross-country road trip, in a car with the windows rolled all the way down. ~ Matt Collar

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