Sapphire Eyes is a new project from Alyson Avenue keyboard player Niclas Olsson and singer Thomas Bursell, with whom he worked with in Sweden's Second Heat. The self-titled debut fits squarely in the AOR melodic rock category, sounding much like Alyson Avenue but with male lead vocals.
Olsson and Bursell are helped out by some other melodic rock heavyweights. On lead vocals, Bursell shares the mic with Mikael Erlandsson (Last Autumn's Dream, Salute) and Mike Andersson (Cloudscape). On backing vocals Sapphire Eyes has former Alyson Avenue singer Anette Olzon, now with Nightwish, and current singer Arabella Vitanc. The duo enlists several experienced players for some impressive guitar licks including Sven Larsson (Street Talk, Lionville) and Rik Priem (Frozen Rain).
This self-titled debut delivers the goods. The songs straddle the line of wistful AOR and more melodic hard rock with strong melodies and vocal harmonies, big hooks in lyrics and arrangements and groovy guitar solos. Sapphire Eyes may even be heavier than Olsson's Alyson Avenue, but most every song has that AOR arena anthem feel. The highlight could be the rock ballad Can't Find the Words, with Mikael Erlandsson at most raspy and passionate best. Neither surprising or novel, this debut is solid and entertaining material, and exactly what you would expect from Olsson and Bursell (except the crappy album art work). Recommended.
While neither surprising or novel, Sapphire Eyes's debut is solid and entertaining material, and exactly what you would expect from Niclas Olsson and Thomas Bursell. Recommended.