Before Instagram, Facebook, Google Photos and Amazon Drive, we had photo albums. In those albums, my mother and father filled the pages with photos of their world adventures. Peering into those photos was a way to connect with them as I grew up. I saw myself in those photos.
The last time I spent quality time with my mother, I had been out at a club, making sure I was sufficiently pushing my demos, making sure they got played. I remember she waited up for me, and when I got home, I was still mildly inebriated. She was watching Magnum, P.I.
She asked me, as I sat down with her and started to watch one of my favourite shows, "How was your night?" I can't remember what I said, I just know I felt like a heel not telling her that I thought I'd had too much to drink. My mom was kind, though, and was good at making subtle points. We watched the show, laughed a little and had a great time. As the night wound down, she simply said, "I'm glad you made it home."
That was the last time we hung out. She passed away a year after going into a coma that month.
So why the story, you might ask?
To me, that's what Nettwerk artist Passenger's new album Young as the Morning Old as the Sea is: a visitation of youth colliding with the inevitability of time passing.
The deluxe album in its entirety is comprised of 10 tracks plus six bonus/acoustic versions. When I first put any album into my rotation, I try my darnedest to listen to it from end to end. Starting with tracks "Everything" to "Home" on this album, this was easy to do. Michael David Rosenberg, known as Passenger, has put together what I feel is his best album yet. It is a complete album. Rosenberg's lyrics and effortless vocal moulding clearly carry the melancholy feel this musical novel conveys.
And, really, that is the best way of describing it. It's a book — a very well-articulated book.
Now, if you're a bookworm, you get it. You have a beginning, a middle and an end, with peaks and valleys or beats that make the experience just work — emotionally, intellectually and more.
Back to my mother: she was a bookworm. She had books everywhere: in the bookshelves, that's a given, but in all our bathrooms too. And I mean novels and inspirational writings and so forth, not sport mags or pass-the-time literature. She had them in her room and in the kitchen — not just cookbooks, To Kill a Mockingbird and the like... yeah, everywhere. I miss that now that I'm all grown up. Personally, I took more interest in manuals and photography books and some sci-fi novels. What I did take away from my baptism into reading and imagination development was the way structure meant so much to a writer's success.
No one beat has more importance than the next; it has to be balanced. The spine of this book is carried by "Somebody's Love," a song that cuts between the common sense of love and the realistic views of midlife.
It's followed up by what may be the highlight song of the album: its title track "Young as the Morning Old as the Sea." It's nicely surrounded by deep percussion, soft electric guitars and lustrous tour-guide imagery lyrics at an uptempo. This page-turning song will guide the heart of youth set to take on the world at birth or the hearts of those past the bloom of youth gasping for a quickening.
I think that without this song I wouldn't have made it to "Home," the final track of this inspirational story. I would have missed hard-hitting, truth-speaking, carefully placed melodies such as "The Long Road" and "Fool's Gold."
Heart-and-soul music, Mr. Rosenberg — this is what you've scratched into the hard drives of this year's world discography.
May you, young and old, see eye to eye on this one and share a brief moment.
— Desiré Amouzou