Angel is one of my favorite songs from Poets of the Fall‘s latest album, Ultraviolet, released in 2018. Last year, I wrote an article about it, but The Alexander Theatre Sessions give me a great excuse to revisit the song.
The grand piano added raw emotions to Angel
Compared to the album version of Angel, The Alexander Theatre one is stripped to a bare minimum for maximum impact. One piano, one voice… and before I start talking about Marko Saaresto singing, let me just relish in Markus “Captain” Kaarlonen‘s piano. This is the first time Markus appears on the videos, and for me, that was the first time I saw him sitting at a grand piano. Angel on the piano is simply magnificent, somber, and powerful. The way Captain plays, how he hits the keys whether forte, pianissimo, or in-between charged the song with even more emotions. I could feel the music and the magic… ok, I am a bit partial, I love the piano.
He has such class at the grand piano that man!
Over-sensitivity meets Angel at the Alexander Theatre
As an over-sensitive person, I tend to react strongly when I am moved, particularly with Poets of the Fall‘s music. So when this version of Angel started, I felt it rather than heard it. Markus‘ grand piano and Marko‘s voice resonated as one within me, which is when the waterworks flowed. This song has such a melancholic quality to it and the warmth of Marko‘s voice deepens that feeling.
I’m not looking for words
I’m not running from hurt
I just want you by my side
The melancholy of these verses lies in how I relate to them. Since I am now convinced that the song is about losing a loved one, the parallel I’ll draw might upset some of you and for that, I apologize. Loss and absence can, sometimes, be treated as equal. Whether one loses someone or suffers from the absence of a loved one not living nearby, the pain can be just as acute. Dealing with the feeling of emptiness that loss or absence may leave in one’s heart is no easy feat. Trust me, at times, being far away is excruciating.
The lines above are like a knife in my heart and yet, I ask for more when I constantly hit the replay button. Go figure!
Grand piano, water, and soothing words
I’m not sure this is accurate, but it is how I feel it. I often associate the grand piano with the sound of water. I am not talking about quite waters though, but rather torrent, waterfall, heavy rain. So, somehow, it is not a very calm feeling inside… more like turmoil. The odd thing is that it does not show to the naked eye. In opposition to what I just wrote, the words Marko Saaresto chose for the song are rather soothing:
Falls like healing rain
Softly soothes my pain
Brilliant! I feel the struggle within because I can relate of course, but also because of the choice of instrument, words, and Marko‘s flawless interpretation bring forth my emotions. I cannot deny them, hence the “waterworks” every time I listen to Angel.
Photography: Tiia Öhman Photography & Design
The hummingbird song
I have already gone through the possible meanings behind Angel, so I won’t write about that again. I will, however, mention the hummingbird again. I cannot help it, the imagery is just so beautiful.
Kiss the feathers of a hummingbird in flight
Breaking up into a million specks of light
Take the shape of an angel in the night
Carry you to peaceful fields
The meaning is obvious, but an aspect I had not thought of before is this. The symbolism of the hummingbird is to celebrate life. So it is an interesting choice of metaphor to speak of loss. Despite the melancholy and the hurt, there is the celebration of a life that deeply touched Marko. It sounds like a send-off and a goodbye… evidently loaded with sorrow. Do you feel the love too?
During the YouTube chat before the premiere of Angel, Marko Saaresto was asked what the song was about. He answered his usual way and said something like: “Sad story really, loads of tissues involved.” Not exactly that, but close.
Dealing with the loss
Now, we all have our ways to deal: denial, crying, anger, hiding… you name it. But here Marko pushes the metaphor and I must say, I acutely feel it and understand his mention of needing tissues.
If I conceal my fear
Will I be in the clear
Or am I giving life to phantom pain
The fear of what, well that is a given: being without the lost one… Why would one want to hide one’s fear? Not to show weakness, maybe. I think it is more as if he wants to hide that fact from the one he is crying for, to ensure that the person remains at peace. Thus doing, would that bring peace of mind to him? Will that hidden fear prevent him from hurting? Or would it make it worse? The limb he has just lost with this death would hurt even more by its absence. It is difficult to explain when Marko did it beautifully in just three lines.
Beyond the words… Marko’s singing
I am not a singer and I don’t have the vocabulary to describe Marko‘s singing. Somewhere on YouTube, a voice coach said something I liked. Marko sings with his voice, his breath, and his body. I would add that he lives every word and thus doing takes us with him every single time. He has poetic storytelling touched by the grace of his voice.
His interpretation of Angel in this version is more powerful to me, maybe because he is just accompanied by the grand piano. I hear the pain in his voice as he sings the words, I see the emotions on his face. I listen and breathe with him too… When I look at him singing, he is sitting in the beautiful Alexander Theatre, but my dear fellow fans and faithful readers, he is not singing to – or for – us. It is almost like he is trying to hide under his cap as well… trying to conceal what he is really feeling. I believe this song makes him feel vulnerable and he might not want to show anyone how much.
If it is the case, it’s okay Marko. Angel is a masterpiece! I also know how good Marko is at bringing forth his emotions to give us the best interpretation of a song… any song. Saying that throws everything I wrote above to the trash-can. I mean, look how happy he appears to be on the photo! The more I listen to it, the more I want to talk about what I see, hear, and feel.
Finally, I would like to say that despite the sorrow and pain coming through Angel, there is a sense of peace that acts as a balm on the raw emotions brought in this version. Marko & Captain, thank you!
Don’t forget to enable the CC to see the lyrics! 😀