Angelfire is the debut of a collaboration between two virtuosos, vocalist Sarah Spencer and guitarist Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs, Deep Purple, Kansas, et al), and I'm a bit out of my league here. Female-fronted soft melodic rock has never been my thing, even though I grew up hearing many of the greats from Joan Baez to Carole King to Carly Simon, among others. Ms. Spencer seems more in the tradition of Sarah McLachlan and others of the modern era. Her voice is incredible, just beautiful. Of course, reader with the same affinities of mine towards melodic hard rock and metal will instantly recognize Steve Morse, the excellent Grammy-nominated guitar player.
This collaboration developed when Spencer's father give Morse her demos and asked to give advice to Sarah about a music career. Morse was both overwhelmed and impressed with the purity of Sarah Spencer's voice. I am too, and I think you will be too. Spencer's range is broad, her control amazing. When she sings she's equally soothing and stirring as she moves from song to song. For Morse's part, his only goal was to write music that allowed Spencer's voice to be heard. He accomplished his goal. Certainly, his work is inspiring (listen to his solo within Terrible Things to Lose, for instance), but every movement in every arrangement of every song allows Spencer's voice to soar. Think Sarah McLachlan meets John McLaughlin. Ultimately, two stars shine here.
A few final notes on the music. This work is pure melodic soft rock with a range of design: the near hymn-like Omnis Morse Aequat, the airy and sublime of Far Gone Now, and the more upbeat pop sound of Here Today, Terrible Things to Lose, and Take It or Leave It. (The last one will most likely appeal to my melodic rock readers who like something a bit stronger and a stirring electric solo.) The mixture of motifs offers both Spencer and Morse many opportunities to prove their incredible range and depth of talent. It's impressive stuff, and I can hear and feel what Morse felt when he heard Sarah Spencer's voice. Brilliant. Strongly recommended!
Angelfire is the debut of a collaboration between two virtuosos, vocalist Sarah Spencer and guitarist Steve Morse, and a nearly flawless work of melodic soft rock featuring Ms. Spencer's beautiful voice.
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