Sparks of Ancient Light is the sixteenth studio album by Al Stewart, released on 15 September 2008. Like many of Stewart's works, the album's songs deal with historical figures, including British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury, deposed Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and 34th U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. According to Stewart, the songs all deal with the themes of "certainty and uncertainty." A music video for "Elvis at the Wheel," shot in Arizona, was released in December 2013.
Allmusic reviewer Richie Unterberger praised the production on the album. He wrote: "Stewart's principal strengths – pleasant haunting melodies, mellifluous vocals, accomplished folk guitar work, and literate, historical-minded lyrics – stand at the forefront, undiminished by extraneous arrangements."
Lord Salisbury is a reference to Robert Cecil, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1895 to 1902. According to Stewart, Cecil led the last "truly patrician government in England and ... believed that England was destined to rule the world."
Elvis at the Wheel refers to an incident where Elvis Presley, looking at a cloud formation, perceived a face of Joseph Stalin changing into that of Jesus, inspiring him to undergo a religious transformation.