I don't think I have to introduce Steve Morse to any progressive rock devotee or even better: to people who like good music. It doesn't matter in which band Morse is playing, Dixie Dregs, Kansas, Deep Purple or Steve Morse Band, he's always true to his own personal recognizable musical style. There was a time I was trying to buy every album he was playing on, but I gave up. This man really is on fire, he has played on so many different albums. Most rock lovers will have an album with Steve on it, I guess.
However, has Steve ever done something like Angelfire? I don't think so, but later on more about the album. First there's someone I would like to introduce to a wider audience: please give a warm welcome to the lovely Sarah Spencer. Who is this pretty lady with the voice of an angel? Sarah started piano lessons at the age of six, at fourteen she was in the cast of a VH1-reality show, which ultimately got cancelled. At sixteen she met Steve Morse and the collaboration of what was to become Angelfire began. Now we all can enjoy the outcome of this magical duo: the album Angelfire.
The result of their cooperation is an album based on Steve's acoustic guitar and Sarah's voice, although Steve occasionally plays electric guitar and keyboards as well. For the bass guitar and the drums, the choice of the instrumentalists was really easy: both Dave LaRue (bass) and Van Romaine (drums) of the Steve Morse Band contributed to the album. When I started to listen my first impression was that Angelfire sounded a bit in the vein of Blackmore's Night, both musically and vocally. Far Gone Now definitely has a touch of the band of the 'man in black', who once was the guitarist of Deep Purple, where Steve Morse is currently playing for already fifteen years. But I have to say Sarah's voice is much clearer and brighter than Candice's. For a single I think Everything To Live For would be very suitable: a soft voice and lyrics that are easy to sing along with. It's just a great song that keeps spinning in the back of my head. Other bands that could have been of any influence in the songwriting process are Mostly Autumn, Robert Plant and Allison Krauss. Some of the songs have a familiar touch as if you already know them, which make the album a very pleasant one to listen to. Feelings Are Overrated, Here Today and Terrible Thing To Loose are some of these songs that make you feel very comfortable. They're still very recognizable, because of the superb guitar playing. Omnis Morse Aequat is a very special sounding song starting with Steve's majestic playing, turning into an almost classical or movie theme epos. Robin Hood would be suitable here. Sarah's vocals turn classical in this one. All the emotions come together in the final chapter of Angelfire. Urban Decay has Sarah Spencer's beautiful voice over the sound of a church organ. It's just a perfect end of an outstanding album.
If you like albums to listen to and relax by with a nice glass of wine, Angelfire is the one for you. Sarah Spencer is a big surprise for me; man, what a beautiful voice she has! And for Steve Morse, yes I know he can play and I really love his electric guitar playing, but on this album you get the other side of him: just contributing to the great songs he has written with Sarah, but still very recognizable. Hats off for Steve Morse; this is an ideal album to spend a winter night with.
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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