AC Sapphire’s serpentine songs weave their way through dreamy desert landscapes. Simple subjects become complex observations in her poetic songwriting style. Reverb laden, densely layered rock ‘n’ roll -droning intricate guitar play and percussive drums make the album Desert Car as sensitive as it is exciting. Sapphire has been heralded in Pop Matters, Glide Magazine, Audiofemme, American Songwriter. She’s toured with Lauren Ruth Ward, recorded with Kyle Craft, and is always championing other women and non binary folks in the music industry. Her long awaited album Desert Car will be released July 16th on American Standard Time Records.
Desert Car was originally slated for independent release in 2020. Two singles “Desert Car”, and “Thrift Store Score” came out to critical acclaim, before the album release was derailed. American Songwriter said “California desert heat and stone cold cool swirl together to create the mix of Americana, pop, and folk that infuse the tracks on Desert Car”. Glide Magazine said “Her cosmic sound blends disparate elements into an ethereal folk-rock while her strong voice shakes listeners awake as she spins her passionate, dust-blasted tales.”
A seasoned performer, AC began performing on the streets of Philadelphia and eastern Pennsylvania at the age of seven with her sisters. Her father was an antique dealer and record collector, and the sounds of back-up singers and an obsession with vocal harmonies were her foundation. It was after a chance performance in a musical play that landed her a solo singing spot that Sapphire began to receive the encouragement from audiences that solidified her notion of herself as a singer. Already a poet, she simply combined her observations with instrumentation. AC began playing at a young age on a single string guitar. And once she realized she could play and sing, not songs stated to pour out. Her first band, Sisters Three even landed a small record deal.
Sapphire says that wandering is in her DNA. She’s never settled, but that’s OK. Travel, and lived experiences drive her creativity. Landing in Joshua Tree, communing with the desert, and becoming a part of the musical community drove the songs that resulted in her latest album Desert Car. When she left the Desert to move to Portland ``for love” she continued to play among the vibrant community of musicians there. On “Bag Of Bones” Sapphire sings among a bounding rhythm section “it’s the mystery that keeps me interested”, while admiring the constantly shifting direction of the wind, and the opportunity to get under people’s superficial skin and at their skeleton. Her ability to bring joy and simplicity are perhaps best exhibited on the song “Can You Feel What I Feel”. Sultry vocals among raspy electric arpeggio’s echo the feeling of a dream, and display Sapphire’s full vocal power, massive in range and pealing like bells.
AC’s persistence, and a lifelong drive to perform kept her afloat during the uncertainty of the pandemic. “With nothing happening, I was unsure if I’d even make music again,” she says “but there was also the realization that this is what I’m most talented at.” Like her songs appear from simple observations, or the desolation of the Mojave, so does AC’s motivation. “It’s about the interaction between an audience and performer,” she muses, “but also the ability to share and be received”. AC’s motivations are different in the most earnest way. When asked about her goals now, she answers profoundly, “To create a community of artists, supporting each other in very intentional ways that also uplifts people who are marginalized”.
Two years later, Sapphire's persistence has put her in a better place. Backed by a rocking band of women, and non binary folks now known in Portland for their astounding live shows, she’s stronger than ever. She’s writing and recording more songs and studying cinematography. A perfect fit, given the cinematic visions her songs invoke. She landed a spot on boutique cosmic American music label American Standard Time Records and the album release is again underway.
The ethereal rock ‘n’ roll of Desert Car is exemplified in the first single “Stick And Poke Tattoo”, about the permanence of memory, simple pleasures, distance, and time. AC the poet, guitar shredder, and band leader is often inspired by people’s simple rituals, and the uniqueness, and quirks about those that bring joy. Stick And Poke Tattoo is a song as romantic as it is rocking, at once epic and effortless, building into a crescendo of harmonies and waves of sound.
Much like the Mojave desert the isolation of the pandemic provided time for reflection and Sapphire decided an additional song belonged on Desert Car.
The profound “The Jesus Song” is a mind-blowing folk-rock effort that turns personal prayer into a zen meditation, and meta narration in the way only Sapphire can. “I’d like to go and get saved myself. I’d like to learn to love myself, why is that so hard?” Sapphire sings nearly solo before a choir of angelic back up singers and acoustic instruments come in. The cathedral effect is all encompassing, and a very agnostic religious experiment reminiscent of the poety of Leonard Cohen.
On “Bonsai” reverberating solo electric echo with Sapphire's stunning vocals. Bursts of electric guitar and drums accentuate the mood that Sapphire sets. Mesmerizing rhythmic picking and vocal interplay prove the variety in which AC’s work can take up space. Whether she’s rocking on stage, or filling a room with her voice in waves, Sapphire's voice creates a sanctified space.