It’s been two years since his debut EP What Was, Not Now was released, with Stephen Sanchez reintroducing us to the retro style with his lovelorn music. It’s also been two years since his viral hit single ‘Until I Found You’ made waves across the globe and encapsulated the bittersweet feeling of falling in love and longing. Sanchez, with his dreamy vibrato and melodramatic delivery, has even garnered the appreciation of legends like Elton John. He’s since chased up with the same emotions for his new album Angel Face, but this time with a story to tell.
Angel Face is one of those rare albums that revolves around a specific concept, with storytelling at the centre of it all. The album is set somewhere between 50s and 60s and tells the story of the romance between the Troubadour Sanchez and Evangeline. Sanchez brings in a fresh look to old fashion blues, ballads, and rock ‘n’ roll. He rebels against the idea of being born in the wrong generation by bringing clean takes of those eras to today.
He opens his album with ‘Something About Her’, the beginning of the Troubadour Sanchez’ story of yearning for the woman who is later introduced in the next song ‘Evangeline’. Here, Sanchez sings clearly about his feelings and desire for Evangeline, even though Evangeline is currently in a love affair with a mobster. It almost feels like a time machine manifesting the 50s to set the scene, with Sanchez’ honest and mesmerising voice playing the role of the Troubadour.
When we reach ‘Be More’, Sanchez is found alone on a theatre stage and singing his heart to an empty crowd, saying all the words he couldn’t say to Evangeline. The song is a climax of his yearning, as he pleads to whoever would listen, praying on the possibility for the woman he loves to fill his heart and to not leave him unrequited. With his voice trembling with every lyric, and his falsetto becoming the culmination of his pining, Sanchez shows how delicate his love is. Little did he know that Evangeline was backstage, taking in every word while Sanchez, like an overflowing cup, outpours his emotions.
‘Shake’ takes a turn halfway through the album, moving from passion to elation as Sanchez channels the likes of Roy Orbison and Elvis in a classic rockabilly song that gets your feet tapping. While ‘Shake’ ends on a high note, it also serves as a marker in the story that from here on out, everything will go downhill for the romance of the Troubadour Sanchez and Evangeline.
‘High’ and ‘Doesn’t Do Me Any Good’ follows up with the classic rock ‘n’ roll sound, though it’s not difficult to see that Sanchez is exploring the conflicting feelings between the characters in his story. At this point, both hero and heroine have reciprocated their feelings, yet our heroine faces trouble acting on it as she’s bound by the feelings of another. ‘You said you’d love me if you could / It doesn’t do me any good,’ Sanchez sings, as the tension between the Troubadour and Evangeline remains unresolved.
We’re eventually met with the Troubadour Sanchez’ final declaration of love to Evangeline in Wild West-inspired track ‘Death Of The Troubadour’. Sanchez gives only a brief message of the Troubadour’s death, how he was gunned down by Evangeline’s mobster lover, and how even in death the Troubadour will continue to love her.
The story ends tragically with ‘Send My Heart With A Kiss’ as the Troubadour Sanchez, in death, asks for one last kiss before he goes. He fears that his soul will wander restlessly and cry out for Evangeline until he knows that she can still offer her love, and asks Evangeline for this final favour so that he can rest peacefully. Stephen Sanchez ends his story in an elegy and closes Angel Face with the grief for his Troubadour persona.
While Angel Face takes us for a ride with the love story between the Troubador and Evangeline, Sanchez was able to create retro tracks that stand on their own, and with a mix of modern elements, create an album that speaks the language of music’s timelessness. With his very first album, Stephen Sanchez paves a passionate path for his musicality, and it’s exciting to see what next projects are in store.