Two of the finest vocalists and songwriters around today are Colorado-based Gregory Alan Isakov and the UK’s Michael Rosenberg, better known by his stage-name Passenger. Both possess gently intimate voices that draw us into their stories. When they sing together, it’s truly enchanting. If you’ve had the opportunity to see either of them in concert, you’ll have seen how remarkably well their music translates into a live experience. Here, we find the pair on tour together. They’d been playing James Taylor’s ‘Sweet Baby James’ for a few days and decided to record it at the soundcheck before their show in Capetown. The blend of their acoustic guitars and harmonies is simply beautiful. Of course this is a classic song, full of wonderful lyrical detail; its narrative transports us to the moonlit fireside, the canyons and pastures, the snow-covered turnpike and the colours of dreams. Taylor wrote the song for his young nephew, a gift of a song.
At the beginning of this year, Passenger released his twelfth studio album, ‘Songs for the Drunk and Broken Hearted’, an acclaimed record that featured the single ‘Sword from the Stone’. The record, which had been delayed by the pandemic, is a personal exploration of coping with life when newly single. Meanwhile, Isakov manages to balance making music with being a full-time farmer. His songs are vivid and lyrically inventive, full of imagery, delivered through remarkably atmospheric, hushed, delicate tunes. If you’re unfamiliar with his work, check out his wonderful collaboration with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra or his most recent album, 2018’s ‘Evening Machines’, which was his first album of new material in five years and was nominated for Best Folk Album at the GRAMMY Awards. Both artists deserve your time and reflection. Start here with this effective cover of a great song.