Stephen Sanchez’s debut album, ‘Angel Face’ opens with the steady, hypnotic ballad ‘Something About Her’. As his voice echoes over spacious keys and his words push up against the gentle, spiralling wall of sound building around his voice. When he muses, “There must be something about her” towards the close of the track, lightly leaning into his staggering falsetto, you’re immediately pulled into the timeless world Sanchez intends to build with his first collection of songs.
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It’s a bold way to start your debut, but Sanchez clearly had no issue taking on a challenge or two. He burst onto the charts with his swooning, viral ballad ‘Until I Found You’ last year, racking up over 700 million Spotify streams since. The hit also landed him a position next to Elton John, as the legendary singer headlined this year’s Glastonbury. As Sanchez recently told NME, John originally asked him to perform one of his own songs with him, before deciding that he would simply play piano for Sanchez, letting him take on the spotlight at world’s most famous festival. And just like that, a star was born.
‘Angel Face’ follows the fictional character of The Troubadour Sanchez and his ill-fated relationship with his love interest, Evangeline. In this tale, the crooner experiences massive success in the 1950s after a riveting performance of his love song, ‘Until I Found You’. But that achievement is short-lived once he falls in love with Evangeline, the girlfriend of a mob boss, and meets an untimely demise.
This story may be the thread tying each track together, but Sanchez’s gorgeous vocal is what truly stands out. On ‘Evangeline’, he hits higher registers to convey a sense of both desire and urgency at the same time. On ‘Be More’, his voice trembles as he sings, “Oh just to know you / Tell me you see me” with so much fragility, you wonder if he’s worried that his emotion will cause the notes to break. But then he begs, “Let it be more,” repeatedly at the bridge, reaching a staggering high note that delicately shatters the track, beautifully fracturing any sense of anxiety.
‘Angel Face’ is not only a testament to Sanchez’s musicality now, but to the projected trail of success his talent will no doubt lead him on. “The story of Troubadour Sanchez is something I feel deeply connected to,” Stephen said in a statement accompanying the album. “Even if his ending was bleak, he lived life with an undeniable passion.” If undeniable passion is Sanchez’s medium of choice, ‘Angel Face’ is his first great oeuvre.
- Release date: September 22
- Record label: Mercury Records/Republic Records