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Sylvan, Nad: Courting the Widow

Whether you've investigate the Agents of Mercy album Dramarama , Swedish band Unifaun, or happened to check out Steve Hackett's Genesis Revisited tours or releases, you no doubt are familiar with vocalist Nad Sylvan. With a style that is a perfect marriage of vintage Peter Gabriel & Phil Collins, Sylvan has been able to bring back fond images of '70s Genesis to everything he's been involved with, and his latest solo album for InsideOut Records, Courting the Widow is no exception. Containing 8 lengthy tracks filled with symphonic arrangements, plenty of atmosphere, memorable melodies, challenging musical passages, and his charming vocal delivery, Courting the Widow is a must hear for any fan of classic progressive rock.

For his third solo release, Sylvan has brought on board Steve Hackett (ex-Genesis), Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings, Agents of Mercy), Nick Beggs (Steven Wilson, Lifesigns), Nick D'Virgilio (Big Big Train, ex-Spock's Beard), Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings, Karmakanik), Doane Perry (ex-Jethro Tull) and Gary O'Toole (Steve Hackett), Rob Townsend (Steve Hackett), among others. Along with handling all the lead vocals, Nad also contributes most of the keyboard work on the album, giving tunes like "Carry Me Home" and the title track a lush, pastoral beauty not unlike some of those magical early Genesis albums from the '70s. "Echoes of Ekwabet" is another gem, with Townsend's floating flute melodies swirling around layers of piano, synth, acoustic, and electric guitar, a tune that could have easily been a leftover from Wind and Wuthering. The big epic is the 22-minute "To Turn the Other Side", an adventurous piece dripping with passionate vocals, Taurus bass pedals, flute, piano, Moog, tricky rhythms, and some tasty guitar work. A must hear for Genesis fans. Both "Ship's Cat" and "The Killing of the Calm" take a more brief, quirky, and charming route, with Sylvan's vocals the star of the show, and moody Mellotron signals the arrival of "Where the Martyr Carved His Name", an atmospheric gem with layers of dreamy vocals and addicting grooves. The album closes out with the bluesy prog number "Long Slow Crash Landing", where Mr. Hackett and Sylvan trade some blistering guitar solo amid ominous keyboard washes and tight rhythms.

Despite the obvious 'Genesis feel' that you get throughout the album, there's also plenty of jazz, folk, and funk elements sprinkled about that keeps Courting the Widow from being a complete retro adventure. Nad Sylvan delivers both that warm & fuzzy bit of nostalgia as well as his own personal stamp, resulting in a lovely gem of any album that comes highly recommended.

Track Listing
1) Carry Me Home (7:20)
2) Courting the Widow (6:14)
3) Echoes of Ekwabet (9:41)
4) To Turn the Other Side (22:06)
5) Ship's Cat (5:05)
6) The Killing of the Calm (5:34)
7) Where the Martyr Carved His Name (7:46)
8) Long Slow Crash Landing (6:46)

Added: December 13th 2015
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Artist Facebook Page
Hits: 2249
Language: english

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Sylvan, Nad: Courting the Widow
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2015-12-13 22:12:17
My Score:

It may come as a surprise to some that Nad Sylvan has been around for quite a long time. The enigmatic singer was born in the States but grew up in Sweden. Early on music made a major impact in his life, especially Genesis and specifically their classic album The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Sylvan had been involved in bands since high school and his passion for music led to three solo albums between 1995 and 2003. I believe these are still relatively unknown but in 2008 Sylvan's band Unifaun released their self-titled debut. From there it was on to Agents Of Mercy, working on Hackett's Genesis Revisited II project and finally his latest solo album Courting The Widow. This time he enlisted some top notch musicians; Nick Beggs, Roger King, Nick D'Virgilio, Jonas Reingold, Roine Stolt and Steve Hackett to name but a few. It's a stellar lineup and the music is all the better because of it. Sylvan has really come into his own with this release. Not only are his vocals excellent, although for some they may take getting used to, his keyboard and guitar work is pretty good too.

The first track "Carry Me Home" catches the listener immediately with a great melody building from calm ambient-like keys into a relaxing mid-tempo groove. Sylvan's vocals are quite distinct with a hint of Gabriel and Collins. The spine tingling title track is an aural feast for the ears with another catchy melody and beautiful softer interludes interspersed with Sylvan's impassioned vocals and musical backdrop filled with lush orchestrations and tasty playing all around. This isn't music that will wow you with over the top solos, it is more about flow and texture, mood and atmosphere. Surprisingly enough , Sylvan's vocals have a hint of Cat Stevens at times, which came as a nice surprise. More nice builds and classy orchestrations can be heard in the Genesis inspired "Echos Of Ekwabet". Sylvan's keyboards are ever present here and his solo is quite nice. He also adds an impressive guitar solo, very melodic and moody. There are some cool directional shifts as well as the song traverses softer and slightly heavier terrain.

The album's opus has to be the twenty-two minute "To Turn The Other Side", a seven part suite showcasing lovely lead and backing vocals, swirling keyboard solos and Hackett's always engaging fretwork. Just an excellent track that does not feel patched together like some of the longer epics in modern prog tend to be.

Courting The Widow is another fabulous album in what has turned out to be another great year for progressive rock. It is certainly one of the classiest prog releases I have heard this year and one of the best sounding production wise as well. Hopefully Nad's relationship with InsideOut Music will continue to grow in the years ahead.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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