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Steve Morse & Sarah Spencer: Angelfire – a review

Angelfire album coverWhile the next DEEP PURPLE album still seems to be  far, far away, a new Purple-related side-project faces the light of day: Steve Morse  joined forces with 22 year old Sarah Spencer to release a vocal album under the “Angelfire”-banner.

Accompanied by STEVE MORSE BAND musicians Dave LaRue on bass guitar and Van Romaine on percussion, the music featured on “Angelfire” has only little to do with Steves work with DEEP PURPLE.

The primary focus is on Sarah Spencers voice with the guitar staying in the background most of the time, accompaning and accenting the vocal lines. Within this kind of clear and natural setup, it is hard to understand why Sarahs vocals have been altered on most songs by several effects, especially reverbs, instead of leaving the voice “the way it is”.

The majority of the songs on the album are of calm nature, trying to impress with the beauty of little details instead of surprising with breaks or unexpected moments. This makes it hard to distinguish between the particular songs during the first few listens, but after a while songs like the ENYA-like “Omnis Morse Aequat” begin to stand out.

However, I’m still wondering about the targeted audience: for Steve Morse fans there are way too few moments of the guitar taking the lead –  for vocal fans the album has to compete with way too many albums following the “girl & guitar”-concept to have a real chance to be successful.



13 Comments to “Steve Morse & Sarah Spencer: Angelfire – a review”:

  1. 1
    HZ says:

    Go ahead, Steve! Also another SM Band thing has to be brought into the light..

  2. 2
    stefan says:

    Haven´t heard this one yet, and have no opinion on the music at the moment but…..I´d just hope Mr.Morse will keep the tights in the closet, there´s more than enough with Blackmore´s Night in the “family” !!! Don´t quit the day job Steve !!!!

  3. 3
    purplepriest1965 says:

    Interesting review.

    First of all I cant see WHO wrote it…..

    Secondly it seems the author implies that

    a

    The singer is not OUTSTANDING IN HER FIELD enough to compete with many others.
    I dont know, perhaps its TASTE.
    I dont recall noticing something special when hearing the samples, a long time ago I must admit.

    b

    That Steve on THIS album TO HIM plays in an un identifiable way at first.
    And that the guitar does not often enough take the lead to make it interesting for Morse fans.

    Mmmmmmmmmmmmhhhhhhhhh, sounds like a Deja Vu.

    Has it not been said very often that people would not listen to BN s work without HIS NAME on it?

    But I also noticed that many said Ritchies work is still identifiable when playing acoustic guitar.
    I think the last are right.
    I dont know about the ANGELFIRE effort.

    Will try to listen again today.

    Nice picture with good matching colours!!!

  4. 4
    Dave Wallis says:

    Andreas, thanks for a nice preview of the album. Yet, one thing made me worry as you wrote “However, I’m still wondering about the targeted audience…”. I thought, how much we – the listeners – have changed for worse since the old days. When in the 70s rock musicians were realeasing albums with soft music (like Glover and his “Butterfly Ball”) we used to listen to it in awe and share a common opinion that it’s so damn important to widen your horizons. These days we tend to ask questions like you did: Who is it for? Or worse – What’s the target? We’re not here to sell it? Music is for everybody, everybody who’s sensitvity yearns for that kind of music. If you serioulsy like for instance Blackmore’s Night, you should be happy with Angelfire. If you don’t, it’s fine too. You’ll get to listen to Black Country Communion soon. Why is it that you/we want, in this case Steve Morse, to record albums that will only be a copy of what he has already done? That’s bad attitide. I wish Angelfire all the best with Angelfire.

  5. 5
    Reinder says:

    I don’t find Steve’s work unrecognisable on this album at all! His melodic approach is written all over it, as was clear even from the short, lo-res samples on the iTunes store, and is even clearer on the actual full album. My biggest concern is whether Sarah Spencer gets enough space to shine and deliver on the precocious talent angle. Steve, at first listening, seems to dominate a little too much.

  6. 6
    purplepriest1965 says:

    I cant find it on youtube or somewhere else.

    Guess I ll have to visit te myspace or something.

    @ 4

    We, the listeners…..

    Who are you referring to exactly?

    Espescially since the Internet came musiclovers all over the world are more able to explore different and unpromoted music.

    Before that WE were dependent on what our national surroundings, dj s who were boycotting heavy rock for example, were offering us.

    I think you ve got it wrong to suggest WE became monominded listeners.
    Many DP fans and other hardrockfans are still open minded and willing to explore different styles.

    The phenomena that certain hardrock or heavy metal fans are indeed NOT interested in something else is very old by now.

    If something like BN or Angelfire is released the reaction is not negative because it is a different style but appearantly it is not good or outstanding enough.

    On one hand I m admitting having been spoiled after all these years and not easily impressed.

    But on the other hand…….
    When I was younger, let s say around my 14th, I dismissed many things as well because I already developed a feel for what was real or not, mediocre or not, etc.

    Yeah, I know that sounds arrogant or something.

    Well, maybe I ll listen to the mentioned things differently when I m in the home for elderly people.
    Who knows?
    And yes, whats wrong about that if that happens?

    When we wander with our thinking, like Gillan often shows or tries to show……, things often become relative.

    A day later we feel a certain passion and conviction and KNOW that the DIO era with Rainbow was superior to the ones that came later. NO CONTEST!!!!

    Happy people are the ones that are able to embrace mediocrity at all times.
    Other people are inclined to a certain level of FRUSTRATION now and then.

    Is it passion?
    Is it arrogance?

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh……….

    Whatever.

  7. 7
    Ted The Mechanic says:

    #4, Eloquent to the ocre, thanks….

    Perhaps the best way to listen to this is to attempt to block out any recognition of the trio and their collective resume’s. I haven’t heard the album as of yet, did hear most of it live, but for what was a fleeting moment at best. The fact that Steve and Co. agreed to work with a young and developing talent, by what I believe was a request by her parents, is actually kind of refreshing in this ever worsening and jaded age. And Purple blog? (Just having fun) :>

    I could have the latest John McLaughlin tribute to John Coltrane in the player, followed by UFO and Angelfire in one sitting. All three polar opposites. What fine potpourri!!!!

    Peace,

    Ted

  8. 8
    Ted The Mechanic says:

    #4, to the CORE…. :>

    Peacem

    Ted

  9. 9
    Crimson Ghost says:

    @6

    Don’t mistake tolerance for embrace! It’s a matter of self control, not ignorance. You either accept something or dismiss it and forget about it, this how how adults usually operate anyway. You see it backwards for some reason. You have everyone who “chooses” to conduct themselves with positive energy to have poor taste. Thanks for sharing your opinion, should it be respected when you just disrespected certain people’s?

    Lighten up on people, you’re beginning to concern with your doom ladden spells.

  10. 10
    purplepriest1965 says:

    @ 9

    Hi Larry

    Did re read your piece a few times.
    Still don t get it, really.
    Whose TOLERANCE and EMBRACE?

    Are YOU really talking about respect?!

    You almost sound threatening again.

    Maybe I should hide in my cave.
    It s almost winter.

    Suppose I should write something else but…..
    I ve got nothing.

    Have a nice weekend.

    Mark

  11. 11
    Crimson Ghost says:

    “Happy people are the ones that are able to embrace mediocrity at all times.”

    You’re confused at the human nature of how acts of appreciation are arrived at and why, maybe not your own, but you really should specify if you’re going to be so precise. Leaping to such conlusions doesn’t prove anything but confusion. And you might want to learn how to use the word ‘threat’ and recognise a threat when you ACTUALLY see one. You’re misusing the word… reading way between the lines will do that. I’m merely suggesting you specify when speaking for yourself and tone down the generalizing of others while expecting no recourse. You’re what they call an ‘instigator’ when you do that. And I’m an instigator exterminator.(someone has to be)

    I will have a nice weekend, Thanks… even the worst one can be considered nice, when darkness is not your weakness.

  12. 12
    purplepriest1965 says:

    Reading your pieces often triggers me to read between the lines because I very often dont have a clue what you re talking about.

    And that has NOT to do with MY English!

    Talking about trying to say I m not modest enough…..
    Look in the mirror and it screams pretention!

    You still try to impose that YOU are the moderator.
    I think you are out of your territory.

    If I was not precise enough, I ll promise to do better in the future, ok?

  13. 13
    Steve Smith says:

    I really like the Angelfire album. Having had it a few days it is really growing on me. If you want/expect another Steve Morse album then maybe this is not for you, but for those with wider tastes then this is very worthwhile. I hope they do another.

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