The title song and second track on Leo Sawikin’s first solo collection, “Row Me Away”, will hit home for a lot of people surviving a reeling world. Nothing seems certain anymore. Foundations are shaken. “Row Me Away” has an age-old subject at its heart, the hope for a better day, and Leo Sawikin dramatizes the feeling with sharply observed images and an individualistic tone. No one sounds quite like Leo Sawikin. You can trace threads of older influences through his music, however, people such as Burt Bacharach and Joni Mitchell, among others, but he transmutes their lessons through his point of view and emerges with something all his own.
There are echoes of tastefully theatrical performers resounding throughout “Row Me Away” and its instrumental highlights, but Sawikin proves himself quite talented at pouring old wine into new bottles. There is a competing sense of the new and familiar creating a pleasant tension. It draws us closer to this song and gives it a vibrant upswing.
Another aspect of his musical identity is the immense likability that comes through. Marc Swersky’s production does excellent work documenting his voice and its physicality without obscuring its musical strengths. The balance it achieves between the bass, drums, and other instruments is key to the song sticking in the listener’s memories. Every great recording artist has a surrounding team who are responsible for helping the musician and songwriter achieve their aims and Leo Sawikin is no exception.
Marc Swersky’s bass playing serves up potent melodic runs through the song. The guitar playing has a much more vivid presence during the middle and second part of “Row Me Away” but there are no real virtuoso moments. This is reflective of his discipline; “Row Me Away” is a work of concentrated focus rather than dissipated attention. He likely settled on a final form for this song early in the process and its four and a half minute duration is note-perfect. He isn’t here to waste your time.
His newest video was filmed in Sandy Hook New Jersey and the Delaware water gap with studio shots done in Brooklyn. The video was directed by Howl Peak Productions. Sawikin chose the right song, as well, to lead off his all-important debut album because of how it touches on painfully human emotions many of us have experienced since January 2020. Music such as this is a light at the end of a long tunnel we should all be grateful for and let’s keep listening as Sawikin continues delivering on the promise contained therein. He’s an all-around impressive performer, interpreter, and artist. Enjoy the video.
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