Sapphire Eyes – Sapphire Eyes

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review by Brian McGowan

Yet another album attempting to sate the almost insatiable appetite for AOR/Westcoast Rock albums. A niche market perhaps but a very active one. Two experienced musicians form the nucleus of SE, Nicolas (Alyson Avenue) Olsson and Thomas (Second Heat) Bursell. Among the many guest players are Mikael (LAD) Erlandsson and Annette (Nightwish) Olzon.

Producer, Olsson clearly has a firm grasp of the essentials, consistently referencing the sounds of the eighties to considerable effect. His production and arrangements are structurally tight, and although, by definition, he’s working from a limited palette, he creates texture and depth. Budget restrictions cloud sonic clarity at times, meaning we can never quite tune into the delicate flourishes that are desperately trying to break through.

Lyrically, the album endlessly recycles the clichés that rock songs generally embrace, but it delivers just enough infectious aural hooks to grab onto and hold our attention. ‘You’re My Wings’’ silvery piano motif, underlined by a sense of cadence and mood, opens the album in sophisticated style, but it promises something that the album never quite delivers. That said, there are a bunch of quality tracks clustered around the middle of the album. The upbeat ‘This Love This Time’ rides in on a galloping beat, while a swell of swooning synths and a sighing chorus lift ‘Change Of Heart’ into Foreigner territory. Sadly, no gospel choir, just the sound of a solid percussive thump.

A sense of sameness creeps in around the halfway mark, so Olsson pitches in Erlandsson’s full on, ‘Can’t Find The Words’ to kick start the album back into life. It’s a quietly epic ballad, powered by unashamed sentiment, and scores big by immersing Erlandsson’s pathos laden voice in a slow-building, multi-layered arrangement. Contender for outstanding track. Elsewhere, ‘When Love Comes Alive’ and closer, ‘Lay Down In My Arms’ manage to rise above their clichéd titles, but as an album the whole somehow seems less than the sum of the parts. Fans of the genre will lap it up, casual listeners may find that it passes them by.

6 out of 10

www.avenue-of-allies.com

Tracklist:sapphire eyes

01 – You’re My Wings
02 – I Want You To See Me
03 – Only Feel Love
04 – This Love This Time
05 – Change Of Heart
06 – Can’t Find The Words
07 – When Love Comes Alive
08 – A Man The World Can Do Without
09 – Someone Like You
10 – Lay Down In My Arms