Review by Aaron Cloutier & Staff
Leo Sawikin is an old soul who composes beautiful ballads in rooms with open windows on West 28th Street in New York City. For the past decade, he has steadily evolved his sound culminating in Row Me Away—his upcoming fourth album, and the first to be released under his own name —his first three albums were recorded under the name The Chordaes. The record was produced by Grammy-winning producer Marc Swersky and largely mixed by Tony Black, himself a Grammy winner as the recording engineer for The Diary of Alicia Keys. With the release of “Golden Days,” Leo hopes to bring comfort and consolation to listeners as we all witness the unfolding of a new world.
Minimalist electronic beats blend together with soaring melodies that sound like a mix between E-bow and vocals simulating deep whale sounds giving me an immediate feeling of being underwater as the tone is set for “Golden Days,” a spacious prog-rock inspired ballad by singer-songwriter Leo Sawikin. The expressive opening is warm and illuminating.
A few seconds in and I’m already introduced to a pleasant divergence from the typical pop song. While the production is pristine, it’s the musicality that sets “Golden Days” apart from its contemporaries. Sawikin sets a happy, yet pensive tone utilizing the Mixolydian mode as the tonal center for the verses. Never straying outside the IV and V chord, utilizing this harmony to great effect, he expertly weaves through melancholy lyrics like “way back then, life was serene, but we blew it all to smithereens.” No doubt reflecting to a simpler time, the arrangement and his vocal performance are filled with longing.
The chorus is in a word, epic! A key change completely shifts the mood from passive and introspective, to full on yearning. Interesting chord choices, spaced out arpeggiated guitars, and impactful piano keys reminds me of something you might find on a David Bowie or Steven Wilson record. Sawikin's command of harmonic composition is impressive.
"Golden Days" seems to encompass more than just a yearning for one's youth and days gone by. It captures the empty feeling that currently exists and the longing for better times.
If you are a listener who takes their pop music with a dash of experimentation and ambitious songwriting then “Golden Days” is definitely going to be up your alley. With a nostalgia for days past, and an ear for new sounds, Sawikin's "Golden Days" will sweep your soul away.
Keep on the lookout for Leo Sawikin’s 2021 release.
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