Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this afternoon’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Mike Wojniak, a rising singer songwriter with a unique flair. He’s made quite a name for himself in the independent scene in recent years with touring across the United States and a series of releases. Right now, you can catch him all over California through November. His new tune is ‘Sail Away.’ Let’s get right into it.
‘Sail Away’ features vocals, guitars, and synthesizers by Wojniak. He’s joined by a cellist, drummer, flutist, and bassist, too. Thus, it’s a bit of a complex romp through a reverb-laced soundscape. It does, however, embrace a unique sense of brevity. Despite the large band and set of featured musicians, everything just... clicks. Nothing feels out of place. From the graceful flute to the haunting backup vocals and sweeping cello notes, everything on ‘Sail Away’ is elegant and well-executed. The song’s sonic intricacies actually evoke a sense of ‘sailing away,’ if you will, washing over you like waves across the shore.
There are a few other things worth touching on as well. First and foremost, I appreciate Wojniak’s usage of the synthesizer. Very sparse, very tactful. More so, his composition is masterful. The entire sound builds over the course of the tune, certainly concreting comparisons fans have made between Wojniak and landmark acts like Coldplay. They’re particularly good at this type of instrument-laden, atmosphere-heavy, soft pop rock crooning. So is Wojniak. His presence in the tune feels organic and natural - he doesn’t overpower the superb instrumentalists backing him. They blend in a blur of harmony.
To be blunt, there isn’t anything to critique on ‘Sail Away.’ I’m a harsh critic, and certainly don’t have issue with brandishing that sword, but I need not in this case. I could understand one arguing the lyrical depth of the piece is a tad shallow - not a whole lot going on. But in counter, one could argue that the song occupies its space intelligently - it doesn’t try to be something it isn’t. Hell, I’d argue it's an exhibition of instrumental prowess set to minimalistic lyrics. Even the voices are used more like accentuating instruments rather than storytelling devices. Check the song out on Sound Cloud below and give Wojniak’s site a look-see to check out all his other work. He’s fairly prolific for a guy who’s just recently got himself out of Ohio and into the big wide world of music. He’s a-okay in my book, and I wouldn’t mind it if he stopped by Chicago in the future. I bet his live act is excellent.