Soul Angel - Soul Angel

Year of Release: 2001
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 47:03:00

Just from looking at the album cover artwork, I'd have guessed another metal band; maybe even an ironically titled dark meta band. Instead, what issues from my speakers is clearly, squarely, blues-rock influenced, heavy, Southern, 70s AOR. The album opens with the keyboard -- sounds like a Hammond -- drenched heavy blues of "Longshot." Grey Moore's guitar playing here is very much reminiscent of Eric Clapton; his interplay with Lea Peed on keys creates an interesting dynamic. Even the production work on this track fits so perfectly with the style, as it sounds more like its being listened to on FM radio rather than CD. Whether this was intentional or not, I'm not sure. It's one of those situations where you think both that it makes it sound real, but also that it needs crisper production. There is a decidedly Southern Rock feel to Soul Angel's self-titled debut as well, which is not surprising given this band's North Carolina origins.

Okay, I really don't know where to begin. I seem to say that a lot, but this is another one of those albums where one finds something to say about every track...something positive. As someone who grew up listening to many of the bands and artists whose influence is so evident in the music, this album is like a trip back in time. I mean, you almost find yourself saying, "Soul Angel. Yeh, I remember when they opened of Skynyrd back in '74..." They didn't, and I don't think they're quite old enough where they could have (looking at their bio and the length of time each has been "in the biz," I'm guessing they are in their mid-to-late 30's ... which would have made them around 7 - 10 years old in '74 ... not that it matters mind you).

Their 70s influences are varied both from song to song and with each song. For instance, the acoustic guitar into that one hears in the mellower "Run And Hide" are, sonically at least, right out of both the Bellamy Brothers' "Let Your Love Flow" and Dave Mason's "We Just Disagree." And while overall "Run And Hide" doesn't sound like Mason's track, at times the whole vibe and laid back feel is very much like it (and the above mentioned Bellamy Brothers ). Cutting across this are occasional tinkling piano lines (think Bruce Hornsby). There are some distracting keyboard effects that try subtly blurt in, leading first to the Hammond taking the lead, and then Moore on lead.

"The Mountain," which is precedes "Run And Hide," is heavier, rockier. Actually, closer to what I expected -- Deep Purple is obviously the strongest influence here, even down to vocalist McGowen Avent's ballsy vocals. At other times, however, Avent sounds a bit like The Black Crowe's Chris Robinson. The heavy rock continues with the pulsating "All A Man Needs," which subtly echoes Free (think "All Right Now" and "Shooting Star").

Essentially, if you think of folks like Allman Bros., Lynyrd Skynyrd, Thin Lizzy, Rossington-Collins, etc. that you will have a very good idea of what Soul Angel sound like. And Soul Angel are very good at what they do. The music sounds authentic, the influences not so pervasive as to be anything more than homage.

Each track is solid, as if this quintet, which also includes Jay Renard on bass and Neal Purser on drums, has really honed their sound. "Too Close To The Fire" is a driving country-rocker with hit potential, "Stand My Ground" is soulful, the Black Crowes like "If I Could" has single written all over it (I mean that in a good way), "Hear Angels Sing" is a heartfelt, laid back piano and keys lead piece that brings to mind both Bruce Hornsby and The Range and Don Henley (the latter in the vocals and vibe). There is a very nice keyboard accent from Peed that one wishes were just a bit up in the mix. "The Charge," as the title might imply, is another pulsing, strutting rocker. At so many points during the first chorus, you feel compelled to utter "uh-huh" -- and, wouldn't you know it, Avent does.

No, they're not prog. But, it is good music and enjoyable to listen to. You can hop on over to their MP3 page and check out a few of their tunes. I think, like me, you'll like what you hear. Recommended.

[August 2002: According to Grey Moore, Soul Angel have since split up.]

Longshot (4:20) / The Mountain (3:38) / Run & Hide (5:11) / All A Man Needs (4:02) / Too Close To The Fire (3:19) / Stand My Ground (4:45) / If I Could (4:25) / Hear Angels Sing (5:50) / The Charge (5:26) / Soul Angel (7:27)

McGowen Avent - vocals and acoustic guitar
Grey Moore - lead and acoustic guitar, additional keyboards
Lea Peed - keyboards
Jay Renard - bass
Neal Purser - drums and percussion

Soul Angel (2001)

Genre: Melodic Rock/AOR

Origin US

Added: June 2nd 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1303
Language: english


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