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NDV (Nick D’Virgilio): Invisible

Coming to prominence as the drummer and then singer in Spock’s Beard, before broadening his horizons to include Big Big Train, being the musical director of Cirque De Soleil and lending his incredible talents to many big name artist’s work, Nick D’Virgilio has, to say the least, quite some pedigree. Incredibly then, Invisible is his first solo foray in just under a decade, an album that covers a immense amount of ground also offering up a guest list that’s wide, varied and undoubtedly impressive - Paul Gilbert, Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick), Carl Verheyen (Supertramp), Tony Levin, Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings), Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) and Jem Godfrey (Frost*) all being involved for starters!

The album itself arrives with a fully formed, if not fully encompassing concept, where we explore human emotion, condition and modern society in great detail, rather than tell some sci-fi epic tale. That leaves NDV, as he’s billed here, a huge amount of room to move within what could have been overly tight constraints. It’s an opportunity that he doesn’t waste, and if anything, to me anyway, one that on occasion, he arguably abuses. I’m all for artists spreading out and turning their hands to all manner of styles and approaches but for my ears there are occasions here where that desire is followed just a little too faithfully.

Initially it feels like we’re in very safe hands, “Prelude” being a beautiful string led introduction into the album’s title track where pulsating beat and groove allows NDV’s vocals to sprawl in all directions with stunning effect. Yes, there’s a Spock’s beard vibe but there are also bluesy elements that bounce off the more symphonic bombast as we move into “Turn Your Life Around”. Here, the real strength of building tension through stinging guitar bursts that play neatly into the strings, verges on stunning. However, the languid lounge cover of “Money (That’s What I Want)” immediately sucks all of the album’s momentum away as an interminably slow approach simply never delivers a pay off.

That’s the rub here, because on occasion the impact of tracks such as the full throttle and ever changing “Mercy” soar to the heights, whereas “Waiting For No One” simply leaves me waiting for something to happen. The good does outweigh the less so impactful, “Not My Time To Say Goodbye” offering up an urgency and potency that isn’t quite captured enough across this release, while “Snake Oil Salesman” reminds, in all the right ways, of the pomp and circumstance of Styx at their very proud best.

Invisible has a lot going for it - none less than a separate booklet that should come with the warning “Contains Drum Porn!” where NDV details all of the different kits he uses across this album along side stunning centre page spread like photos! - and at times there is material here that’s as strong as anything I’ve heard during 2020. That, to me, the standard is allowed to slip away through an over willingness to change the impetus and focus of proceedings, is a real lost opportunity. That all said, the reception for this album has, pretty universally, been much more lauding than I have, so my advice would be to follow the link and give the whole thing a few (I needed a lot) of spins to see what you think. I still can’t quite shake off the notion of what might have been…

Track Listing
1. Prelude
2. Invisible
3. Turn Your Life Around
4. I'm Gone
5. Money (That's What I Want)
6. Waiting For No One
7. Snake Oil Salesman
8. Where's The Passion
9. Mercy
10. Overcome
11. In My Bones
12. Wrong Place Wrong Time
13. Not My Time To Say Goodbye
14. I Know The Way

Added: January 7th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: NDV @ bandcamp
Hits: 669
Language: english

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