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Reviewed by Jemilah Ross-Hayes

Sojourn: Mystic Ways EP

Reviewed by Jemilah Ross-Hayes

Sojourn: Mystic Ways EP

Sojourn‘s new ‘Mystic Ways’ EP feels like happily waiting for ice cream in the hot sun at a summer festival. Their six-track release begins with birdsong, easing slowly into the musical journey, and ends with a reggae sound that is oh-so-Aotearoa, and could definitely be the encore to their next gig.

The six-piece surf pop/rock-reggae band from the east coast seaside township of Mangawhai have willingly let the salt go to their heads as their new EP nails the unhurried feeling of a good summer surf. They’ve described it as a body of work that showcases the band’s recent journey through change, adversity, loss and positive growth. 

The six songs were written and recorded over a full year at their Mangawhai HQ, alongside producer (and Mako Road bassist) Connor Jaine, and mastered at Kog Studios. Each track is sprinkled with a delicate saxophone riff or two by Jacob O’Brien and bites of finger-licking licks from James Finlay, while Jim Bokma holds it all down on drums. The presence of Elias Giles on keys is not distinctive but it’s the kind of sound that would be missed if it wasn’t there.

The EP highlight and closing title track, Mystic Ways, was written during the spring of 2020, with inspiration for it coming from the Dunedin surf rock scene. A captivating pastel sketch-animated video by Steph Mary Barnett cleverly illustrates the song’s psychedelic narrative in exploring the journey of a bad trip, following the character through his own journey of losing reality and grip on emotions and actions. The video sucks the sense of a lighter life into the deep sinister hole the story is creating – yet the upbeat bass-line from Tony Baker and smooth vocals of Isaac Hunter simultaneously provide a sense of hope.

The band happily report the EP encapsulates the full repertoire of their sound, which is tribute to all involved. Having previously opened for some of Aotearoa’s best artists such as Mako RoadThe ButlersSummer Thieves and Sons of Zionthe Sojourn summers are bound to be filled with festival sets in future, and probably a surf or seven in between.