Angel Face: Club Deluxe sees Stephen Sanchez bleed rock, roll and romance over five devilishly debonair new tracks. Sanchez’s character, ‘The Troubadour’, makes a thrashing return to prove that not even a bullet could stop love in its tracks. In fact, it only spreads it further, drawing it out in tender, crimson spools.

Among the new tracks is ‘Howling at Wolves’ which pounces in with all the urgency of a scorned lover. The riff possesses an eerie quality, vaguely vengeful, yet it’s tinged with a passion that could only have come from true love. The concept album Angel Face ended with The Troubadour dying from a bullet wound in the arms of his beloved Evangeline, pleading with her heart as he went. As a direct follow on, this track is much more primal in its expression of desire. Sanchez sings of Evangeline’s search for her lost love; a gritty, siren song that oozes with lust. Her desperation shines in lyrics like, “there’s no escaping now, I am falling down.” Imagine it playing over a climactic car chase, the Bonnie and Clyde of stolen hearts.

‘The Other Side’ slows the pace back to a steady sway. The vocals are light and feathery, and when paired with the sultry plunges of bass, they guarantee swoons. Within a single lyric, Sanchez moves from a glistening croon to a spoken drawl that you just know was emphasised with batted eyes. It’s a truly impressive display of his timeless vocal capabilities. This level of control continues into ‘Fame or Fortune’ in which he declares: “I’ve found my reason to live, I don’t need fame or fortune.” Sanchez’s gentle vocal tremors appear so delicate here you’d swear they would shatter under the weight of a teardrop. Meanwhile, an acoustic guitar flutters in the background at the perfect tempo for slow dancing. You can almost see it beyond the rich harmonies, two people shuffling through the last breaths of a Disney classic.

As well as his clear emotional prowess, Sanchez has a talent for creating a track list with flair and nuance. Club Deluxe is no exception. ‘Emotional Vacation’ ripples with tantalising summer energy. Picture pastel parasols and convertibles lining the edges of beaches. The lyrics are buoyant and optimistic promising that, “I can be the one you feel.” Atmospherically, it’s reminiscent of Angel Face’s ‘Only Girl’ with that same combination of emotionally charged lyrics over a beat you could dance to blissfully in the sun.

The last moments of new material can be found in ‘This Thing Called Love.’ The plinking piano glides with the kind of graceful abandon of a jazz musician at closing time. Sanchez ponders, “how can I be friends with this thing called love?” in the musical equivalent of woven silk. Resting at under three minutes, this track feels like a moment in time. It flickers and fades as The Troubadour’s story, this testament to the lost art of loving, finally draws to a close. It’s composition is dizzyingly beautiful.

Club Deluxe officially closes with the wildly popular duet version of ‘Until I Found You’ -featuring Em Beihold. When the curtains opened for the original track back in 2021, it became an instant classic you’d be forgiven for thinking was plucked straight from the hands of time. With skilful regard for the records that arranged his consciousness as a child, Sanchez guided listeners back to 1958 in swathes of guitar that were made for echoing around a dancehall. It was, or seemed, note perfect. Impossible to improve upon. Until we found Em. It’s hard to imagine how a track containing such a palpable throb of romance ever existed without her. Her verse includes such poetry as, “heaven, when I held you again,” and “rather die than let you go, Juliet to your Romeo.” Truly a divine pairing and the perfect send off for this era of Sanchez’s music. Listen as love gains its wings.

From its opening note to its closing line, Angel Face: Club Deluxe is an inspired listen. It shimmers and jangles with all the tension and tenderness of an early 60s romance. Stephen Sanchez might be the modern day romantic, but The Troubadour’s pulse will always be in the past.

Stephen Sanchez: Angel Face Club Deluxe – Out 26th April 2024

At Wolves” Stephen Sanchez -Phoenix AZ 11/8/23 (