Angel Face

Angel Face

In a world rife with dating apps and situationships, Stephen Sanchez is repackaging old-school love for a new generation. The young singer-songwriter channels the vintage pop/rock sounds, love-stricken lyricism, and warbly croons of the golden greats (à la Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Nat “King” Cole, and The Platters) and filters it through today’s high-definition lens, producing a style that’s nostalgic without erring on pastiche. After going viral on social media in 2020, Sanchez released his 2021 major-label debut “Until I Found You,” which became an instant and lasting hit, going multiplatinum and amassing over two billion streams. A tender ballad swathed in dreamy, dusty guitar and warm harmonies, the song could almost be one of the many vinyl records he thumbed through in his grandfather’s barn as a child, 7-inch time capsules of the ’50s and ’60s. Angel Face, Sanchez’s first full-length, is an extended trip into that world: one of smoke-filled nightclubs and glamour, where candy-colored Cadillacs pack drive-in theaters and couples slow-dance cheek to cheek next to the jukebox. Taking place between 1958 and 1964, the concept album chronicles a love story between a famous crooner (The Troubadour Sanchez) and Evangeline, the girlfriend of a mob boss who owns the club where Sanchez performs. “Something About Her” opens the LP with infatuated musing over plinking keys: “What good is love if not to miss your hands or your eyes/Or the way that yours just look in mine?” he drawls. On the twinkling “Evangeline,” he pleads his case to the titular character with an urgent half-roar, half-falsetto. While the pair find a (premature) happy ending atop the piano crescendo of “Be More,” complications arise across the album’s second act, bringing balance to Sanchez’s loved-up serenades and carrying Angel Face to its dramatic finale.

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