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Angelfire (Steve Morse & Sarah Spencer): Angelfire

When guitarist Steve Morse was approached by the father of a young female singer and asked to offer her some advice regarding the music industry, he was at first a little reluctant to get overly involved. That all changed however when he heard the voice of the young lady in question, Sarah Spencer and so enchanted by her clear, pure voice was he, that he began writing music to compliment it. Over the period of the next two years, Morse and Spencer pieced together the eleven songs that have become the self titled debut album from Angelfire. Currently the guitarist in Deep Purple, Morse is known for his contributions to quite an eclectic mix of bands, with his CV also including Dixie Dregs and Kansas, as well as a solo career. Anglefire however adds yet another string to his bow, as it features an almost exclusively acoustic performance in order to accompany Spencer's sweet tones, without ever over powering them. His playing is, as expected, nothing short of excellent, however what's more impressive is the space he leaves his counterpart to shine and in truth this is an album dedicated to vocals rather than guitar.

It's easy to hear why Morse became so captivated by Sarah's voice, as the clarity and tone she possesses is mightily impressive, although her Patty Smyth meets Sarah McLachlan with more than a hint of Enya delivery can become slightly one dimensional at times. That said the beautiful relaxing acoustic sounds Morse creates is the perfect setting to show this young lady at her best. The likes of "Here Today" and "Feelings Are Overrated" are wonderfully laid back acoustic ballads and if that description sounds interesting to you, then I doubt you will find a better album this year. For many though, the whole concept of this disc will be just too tame and with so much focus on the vocals throughout this album, those hoping to hear Morse at his dextrous best may well be slightly disappointed. That is not to suggest that his playing in Angelfire is anything short of fantastic and I'm sure he has achieved exactly what he set out to with this project, it's just that some fans of his work would possibly prefer more Morse for their money.

Personally I find this to be an album that when the mood for some less taxing tones grabs me, hits the spot perfectly and while I will admit that it is definitely not a disc for all occasions, it is still a beautiful, beguiling collection of songs. It is impossible to deny that Spencer has an impeccable voice, which shines especially brightly on the Enya like "Omnis Morse Aequat" and more upbeat "Take It Or Leave It" (which should have opened the album) and if you are looking for something to kick back and relax to through the late summer days, then this could well be the album with which to do it.

Track Listing
1. Far Gone Now
2. Everything To Live For
3. Feelings Are Overrated
4. What Made You Think?
5. Here Today
6. Get Away
7. Pleasant Surprise
8. Terrible Thing To Lose
9. Omnis Morse Aequat
10. Take It Or Leave It
11. Urban Decay

Added: October 11th 2010
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Angelfire Official Web Site
Hits: 3526
Language: english

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Angelfire (Steve Morse & Sarah Spencer): Angelfire
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-10-11 01:14:26
My Score:

Guitar great Steve Morse is most noted for his guitar heroics in The Dregs, Kansas, Steve Morse Band and Deep Purple, of which he has been a member for the past fifteen years. He has played everything from jazz to bluegrass to fusion to hard rock and is regarded as one of the best guitar players around (was voted as best overall guitarist by the readers of Guitar Player magazine for five straight years).

Sarah Spencer is a twenty-two year old singer songwriter who began piano lessons at the age of six and by the time she hit fourteen was cast in a reality show on VH1. She continued to pursue music through her teens and worked with well-known producers Paul Weston and Al Steele recording live orchestral songs.

As chance would have it, Spencer's parents knew Morse and asked him to listen to some of Sarah's demos, wanting music industry advice for their daughter. Said Morse, "I was reluctant to get involved in anyone's decisions, but then I heard her sing." And so this unlikely of pairings came to be.

The old adage "You can't judge a book by its cover", or CD in this case, doesn't ring true with Angelfire. This is mostly introspective acoustic music with inflections of pop, classical, folk, jazz with a little blues thrown into the mix. Morse's acoustic guitar shines throughout and lays a calming backdrop for Spencer's angelic vocals. They complement each other beautifully and its clear this music was written to show off Spencer's excellent voice. Morse plays with grace and restraint; his mellow acoustic rhythms and fluid runs are the vehicle for Spencer's dream-like vocals. Angelfire also includes Steve Morse's band mates Dave LaRue on bass and Van Romaine on drums and percussion.

My personal favourites include the Enya inspired "Omnis Morse Aequat" where Spencer's vocals are like a breath of fresh air, a perfect match for Morse's tasteful acoustic strums and the more upbeat "Take It or Leave It" with its jangly pop accents and an inspired electric solo from Morse that is subtle and tasteful, never straying too far from the overall folky atmosphere the CD conveys.

Anyone who likes acoustic music should find plenty to like on Angelfire. At only twenty-two years of age Spencer has a bright future and what better way to show off her talents than to team up with the classy Mr. Morse. Whether or not Angelfire is a commercial success only time will tell but I think both can be proud of this album. Angelfire was released this past August on Radiant Records.

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