I still remember the excellent demos from SAPPHIRE EYES recorded more than ten years ago. It was the side project of Swedes’ Alyson Avenue songwriter and keyboard player Niclas Olsson. Over the years Niclas has written a lot of songs that didn’t seem to be the right choice for Alyson Avenue (a female fronted band), so he kept them up his sleeve until he got the opportunity to properly record the material.The time has come, and Sapphire Eyes self-titled debut is here with its baggage of pure Scandi AOR.

When Alyson Avenue parted ways with vocalist Anette Olzon (who went into Nightwish) in 2006, Niclas wanted to revive Sapphire Eyes but due to other projects (including the very good Swedish act Second Heat) and the songwriting for Alyson Avenue’s comeback album ‘Changes’ with their new vocalist Arabella Vitanc, the project was put on hold again.
Last year, Sapphire Eyes finally took real form with singer Thomas Bursell joining Niclas to finish and arrange the songs written a decade ago, plus new ones. To record the album, the duo called some real rock stars from the Swedish rock scene.

Mikael Erlandsson (Last Autumn’s Dream, Salute) took over the lead vocals on two songs and Mike Andersson (Cloudscape) handles the vocal duties on one tune. The female vocal touch is added by the two Alyson Avenue front ladies, past and present, with Anette Olzon and Arabella Vitanc recording backing vocals for two songs each.
Guitar contributions on the recording come from Sven Larsson (Street Talk, Lionville), Rik Priem (Frozen Rain), Emil Knabe and part-time Alyson Avenue musician Christopher Dahlmann.
Also six-string player Mikey K Nilsson (ex- Nasty Idols) and Göran Forssén on bass (two more current Alyson Avenue members) and Mats Ståhl as well as Francesco Jovino (U.D.O., Hardline) on drums where the hired session musicians.

The CD has a classy, pure Scandinavian AOR sound written all over it, with many keyboard driven tunes that will delight fans of this style.
There’s highly melodic numbers on “You’re My Wings” (greak hookline), the catchy “Only Feel Love”, the quite uptempo “This Love This Time” (featuring Anette Olzon) and the more melodic rock oriented “A Man The World Can Do Without” smoothly sung by Cloudscape’s Mike Andersson.
The album is balanced with fine midtempos such as “Change Of Heart” with a great guitar work by Sven Larsson (super clean and exquisite) and the pure AOR of “Someone Like You” featuring amazing harmony vocals.
Sapphire Eyes has room for ballads too, and “Can’t Find The Words” superbly sung by Mikael Erlandsson – in one of his best performances ever – is one of the highlights in this really good CD. This song alone worth the purchase.

Sapphire Eyes is a lovable PURE AOR (with Capitals) album in the Scandi style.
Good songs, tons of keys, harmony vocals everywhere… this is a dream for aorsters. Just… WOW, I love this.

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

Thomas Bursell: Lead vocals, background vocals
Niclas Olsson: Keyboards, background vocals, drums on track 3

Additional musicians:
Mikael Erlandsson: Lead vocals on tracks 1 & 6
Mike Andersson: Lead vocals on track 8
Anette Olzon: Special lead vocals on track 4 & background vocals on track 10
Arabella Vitanc: Background vocals on tracks 3 & 9
Emil Knabe: Guitars on tracks 1 & 9
Sven Larsson: Guitars on tracks 3 & 5
Mikey K Nilsson: Guitars on tracks 2, 6, 7 & 10, additional guitars on track 8
Rik Priem: Guitars on track 4 & Intro solo on track 2
Christofer Dahlman: Guitars on track 8
Thomas Löyskä: Bass on tracks 1, 2, 4, 8 & 10, clean guitars on tracks 2 & 10
Göran “G” Forssén: Bass on tracks 3, 5, 7 & 9
Mats Ståhl: Bass on track 6
Fransesco Jovino: Drums on all tracks except track 3
Anders “Theo” Theander: Loops, percussion and FX


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SAPPHIRE EYES – Sapphire Eyes (2012)

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