• Darby VanDeVeen

‘Songs for the Drunk and Broken Hearted’ provides comfort in a time of instability

Songs for the Drunk and Broken Hearted is just what it says - songs to bring those who feel lost a little bit of hope and light.”

In a time of instability, one of the most stable artists is Michael Rosenberg who goes by the stage name Passenger. After becoming a household name in 2012 with “Let Her Go,” he fell out of the spotlight but has been consistently releasing an album a year since 2014. His latest release, Songs for the Drunk and Broken Hearted is just what it says - songs to bring those who feel lost a little bit of hope and light.

Inspired by a breakup, Rosenberg turned to music to help him through. His acoustic, finger-picked melodies are simple and yet provide the perfect backing for an album that relies heavily on lyrical strengths instead of production gimmicks. The opening track, “Sword from the Stone,” brings listeners into the breakup, after the initial anger and disappointment. Rosenberg wishes his partner well while admitting that he has good days and bad days. It becomes clear that as much as Rosenberg is writing for himself, he aims for the relatability that can only come by being vulnerable.

“The Way That I Love You” finds Rosenberg’s voice filled with affection for the subject of the song, and encouraging them to find beauty in themselves. But Passenger does not only attempt to showcase the beauty in others, he also encourages listeners to find these little moments in life around them on the closing track “London in the Spring.” Finding and expanding little moments and thoughts into full stories is where Passenger excels. He also draws influence from classics like Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker” in “Remember to Forget,” mimicking the lyrical structure in the opening verse.

Songs for the Drunk and Broken Hearted is a comforting release but also takes a reflective stance. Songs like “Sandstorm” detail a heated argument in which Rosenberg considers the part he played in the escalation of it. “Suzanne” is another that falls into this category, taking the perspective of an old woman who ponders on if she’s lived a good life. The sweet song is a tearjerker, and forces listeners to wonder if their life “is everything [they] dreamed it would be.”

One of the most intriguing features of Songs for the Drunk and Broken Hearted is the acoustic version of each song that plays in reverse order. While interesting, it didn’t seem very practical given Passenger’s overall style and feel. As the majority of songs were stripped down, there wasn’t much else to change and made the album twice as long as it needed to be. Overall, while it’s relatively a “safe” release for Passenger, the concept and theme feel like a warm hug from a friend: something we didn’t know we needed until it was given.


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