Singer-songwriter Leo Sawikin releases his new album, Row Me Away, via Riverine Music. Recorded at Sound on Sound Studios in Montclair, New Jersey, the album was produced by Grammy-winner Marc Swersky, mixed by Tony Black (tracks 1-7), Seth Von Paulus (tracks 8,10), and Marc Swersky/Leo Sawikin (track 9). Mastering was handled by Leon Zervos.
Although his fourth album, Row Me Away is the first album released under Leo’s own name. Leo released the previous three albums using the name The Chordaes.
Written and recorded prior to the pandemic, Row Me Away seems to perfectly presage the uncertainty engendered by the pandemic, probing into the dehumanized, fearful state of a world on the brink of the abyss.
Leo shares, “It’s about letting go of the past to carve out a new future.”
From childhood, Leo’s ability to identify and interpret non-verbal signals resulted in a sense of disconnection, leading to trouble in school and medication, which further reduced his ability to connect with people.
Leo explains, “I have always had trouble paying attention to people’s non-verbal signals. I understand them as well as anyone, but my thoughts are very scattered, so I often miss them.”
When he was nine years old, he discovered the guitar, which proved to be his salvation, allowing him to connect with the world.
“Music has always been my secret weapon to combat this. It brings me to a place outside of all of my problems, and the dream I have is that when other people listen to it, they will be brought to that same place. In that space we all share, none of our differences matter, and understanding one another is as effortless as the sound of the music traveling through the air. My goal in life is to bring as many people to that place as possible,” says Leo.
Encompassing 10-tracks, entry points on the album include “Born Too Late,” opening on dark rumbling colors accented by luminous tones. As the song escalates, taking on indie-rock textures, Leo’s smooth tenor infuses the lyrics with luscious savors, as well as a dazzling falsetto.
Low-slung and gleaming with creamy undulations, the title track delivers glistening layers of resonant colors as Leo imbues the lyrics with hints of yearning. A personal favorite, “A Whole World Waiting” rolls out on a syncopated rhythm topped by shimmering coloration. Warm and delicious, Leo’s voice fills the lyrics with lush tones.
“But I’ll make it through the night / ‘Cause I’ll leave you behind / No, I can’t spend my whole life waiting while… / You know that love is right, but still you have to fight / And I can’t keep the whole world waiting / The whole world’s waiting. Why?”
“You Love Too Much” rolls out on velvety textures tinged with alt-country flavors, featuring a crying steel guitar and Leo’s evocative vocals. The final track, “Take What You Want” merges oozing blues savors with hints of jazz, forming a delicious melody brimming with languid leitmotifs as Leo’s melancholic timbres give the song sad hues.
Row Me Away is excellent, pushing out piquant sonic aromas, contagious rhythms, and the plush, swanky voice of Leo Sawikin.