AC Sapphire – Desert Car
Portland’s AC Sapphire’s genuinely long-awaited CD features 11-cuts of her absorbing Americana sprinkled with doses of ethereally ambitious soundscapes. Her powerful & imaginative vocals are tailored for the songs on Desert Car (American Standard Time Records-Drops July 16).
4-tracks co-produced by Tom Sonnefeld (bass/lead guitar/drums on “Cut the Line”) have AC (vocals/electric guitar), Ryan Erskine (drums/vocal) & Luke Dawson (pedal steel) with guest vocals by the renowned Victoria Williams.
The pounding & exciting “Stick & Poke Tattoo” is a soulful impeccably performed melody that exudes a 60s girl-group pastiche. The Harlan Steinberger-produced “Thrift Store Score” is a clever, splendid showcase that features additional vocals/electric guitar by Particle Kid (Micah Nelson). It has its own personality & it’s a potent cross between Blondie (Deborah Harry) with the edginess of vintage Patti Smith & thrust of Joan Jett. AC’s vocals on this cut are exceptional R&R.
The first single “Desert Car,” possesses a few more ounces of 60s girl-group muscle. It sizzles with ideas as AC’s voice & band deliver an atmospheric blend of melodic charm. AC applies lustrous intonation, phrasing & tonality. Her cadences & how she approaches her high notes with grace & power — impressive.
“Bonsai,” finds AC cruising the near-operatic ethereal Sally Oldfield vocal style. Genuinely potent. Deep tones followed by arid tissue-thin notes that float like satin sheets on the wind. In a word – beautiful.
The well-written “Can You Feel What I Feel,” has attractive backup & Alexis Mahler’s viola adds the much-needed classical touch. Vocally another magical endeavor. The more country laid-back feel of “35mm Camera,” is a jewel. It shows AC’s diversification. Produced by Harlan Steinberger (drums/organ) with Aroyn Davis (bass), Nikita Sorokin (violin), AC (guitar) & Milo Gonzalez (guitar).
“Cut the Line.” Wow. A return to a girl group scenario that’s absorbing. Shades of beautiful nostalgia with surf & sand, Shangri-Las darkness that sparkles & elegant Spanish-flavored drive. Fluid production. Kudos to all. AC is ever-so compelling with her authoritative vocals.
“Bag of Bones,” is mired in a long hallway of echo but the crunchy punk-like guitars are reminiscent of the 70s band Television (Robert Lloyd/Tom Verlaine). AC’s operatically strong voice elevates the tune. Think Susan Osborne (“Lay Down Your Burden”) or Annie Haslam (Renaissance) with punk-new wave backup.
AC with her silky graceful voice takes a swipe at Sarah McLachlan on “Full Moon.” Deep piano enriches the song offset by electronics. My suggestion would be to dispense with the electronics & add cello, low haunting baritone sax & upright bass. It would create a more ambient moody, warm dynamic.
2-additional songs were added “Jesus, Are You There,” (produced by pianist Lynx DeMuth) which provides AC (Anna Christie) with room to showcase her pipes & “Mood Ring” produced by Howard Billerman.
One of the Best of 2022. B&W photos: Carly Valentine. The 34-minute CD @ Bandcamp: https://acsapphire.bandcamp.com/album/desert-car-album + https://www.acsapphiremusic.com/