MERCURY RECORDS/REPUBLIC RECORDS/UNIVERSAL MUSIC
Stephen Sanchez is a new artist who released his debut EP, What Was, Not Now, in 2021. it caught the attention of many radio programmers and record labels. Republic Records won the bidding war and Sanchez is now signed with the label and his independent EP has been re-released. Angel Face is a very pleasant surprise. When I first listened to it, I thought this is what a Ricky Nelson album would sound like if Father John Misty wrote and produced it. From the sleeve of the album, to the echoey production to the full scale arrangements, Angel Face is steeped in the past and yet sounds remarkably current.
Sanchez has a great voice. Let’s start there. And he also brings a great deal of personality to the music, much the same as Nelson or Bobby Darin or even Sinatra. He establishes himself early on in the album and keeps the pace going throughout. The album opens with the wonderful “Something About Her”, which is romantic and refreshing in the landscape of today’s music. This is just pure joy. Later in the album he channels Roy Orbison with “Be More” which has perfect production and sound.
Angel Face is intelligent and well thought out pop music. Each song has melodic, sparse and deceptively simple arrangements, but underneath there is a lot going on. There are also a lot of times that songs are allowed to build and create a soundscape. “Until I Found You” is a good example, it just keeps building and building but never distracting. Each song plays like its own little pop symphony. Not in a Phil Spector wall of sound way, but in creating independent big music. But then, he just rocks out with “Shake”, which is a great rock ‘n’ roll song. He takes you back to Little Richard and Elvis Presley.
Angel Face was a huge surprise when it hit these ears. It stands out as a very unique work. It is a breath of fresh air and one that is going to be on the turntable for a long time in this house. Sanchez has brought the fun back into music and it has not sounded this good for a number of years.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: STEPHEN SANCHEZ – ANGEL FACE