Few artists have made the bold move of releasing an intricate concept album as their debut, but for Stephen Sanchez it came naturally.
20-year-old singer-songwriter published An angel’s face on Friday, a collection of songs written from the fictional perspective of troubadour Sanchez, an Elvis-era singer who finds himself in a dangerous love triangle with a tragic ending.
“This whole record is about the troubadour Sanchez, his secret love with Evangeline and her attempt to escape her boyfriend, Hunter, by running away and leaving LA forever with the troubadour,” Sanchez explains to PEOPLE of the 50s and ’60s-inspired album has, “until their love is cut short after Hunter kills the Troubadour after learning of their romance.”
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An angel’s faceThe concept began with 2021’s “Until I Found You,” a romantic ballad written about Sanchez’s real-life romance with ex-girlfriend Georgia. Since its release, the song has been streamed billions of times, gone viral on TikTok and went triple platinum.
He performed “Until I Found You” all over the world, including with Elton John at Glastonbury as well as at the wedding of Sofia Richie and Elliott Grange, providing the music for the start of the rest of the couple’s life together. The actual relationship behind the song, however, ended before it was released.
“I want [Georgia] the best, and I think she also wishes me the best. “We’re both living our lives,” says Sanchez, who has since found new meaning in the song. .”
Stephen Sanchez performs in Los Angeles in August 2023.
Part of the musician’s reasons for creating the fictitious story behind An angel’s face is so that he doesn’t have to let listeners into the story of his real love again after “Until I Found You”.
“The only relationship I want people to care about is the one between the Troubadour and Evangeline,” Sanchez declares. “As for my relationship, I think I want to be the only one thinking about it.”
Growing up in El Dorado, California, the performer developed his taste for ’50s and ’60s music from his two grandfathers — one who let him raid his stacked record collection of Roy Orbison, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole albums, the other was a talented guitarist. They inspired Sanchez to start singing at a young age, and he then joined his local gospel choir.
“Then, in high school, I just fell in love for the first time and I didn’t really want to sing gospel anymore,” he says. – I wanted to sing love songs.
Credit: Luke Rogers
After “Until I Found You” blew up, Sanchez went to work An angel’s face and wrote several of his songs before coming up with the Troubadour’s story. “That’s how it presented itself,” he notes.
In the context of the album, “Until I Found You” acts as the 1958 hit single by fictional band Stephen Sanchez & The Moon Crests, launching their career. But the action actually takes place in 1964, when the band has a residency at the Angel Club – “which was owned by Hunter and his thugs,” he says.
At first, the story was supposed to end with the Troubadour and Evangeline running off into the sunset together, happily in love. However, when Sanchez entered the studio with collaborator Ben Schneider of Lord Huron, he began to feel like the finale was “miserable.”
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Stephen Sanchez at the MTV VMA Awards in Newark, New Jersey in September 2023.
He recalls Schneider telling him, “Devastation is what makes love worthwhile. It makes the story true. This doesn’t ring true.” So they decided that the album’s narrative should conclude with Hunter killing the Troubadour with a shot to the chest.
Much of the complex plot has played out in Sanchez’s music videos to date, but eagle-eyed fans will learn even more as the album cycle continues. “There’s going to be so many little Easter eggs,” she teases. “I think it’s so exciting that there’s someone other than me that I can relate to.”
After last year’s sold out tour, Sanchez will hit the road An angel’s face on the road from next month — but visitors won’t see it. They will see the characters and watch the blissful romance unfold through its dangerous end.
“I’m going to get shot at the end and do a fight scene,” he says of the upcoming concerts. “It’s going to be very theatrical and it’s going to feel like you’re entering this world of Troubadour Sanchez.”