NAD SYLVAN - The Regal Bastard
Best known as tour vocalist for former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, Nad Sylvan has also a busy career outside that venture. In the past he sang for Unifaun and Agents Of Mercy, but has lately concentrated his energies on his solo career. After a few little noticed albums, he surprised in 2015 with Courting The Widow, the fist part of a vampire themed trilogy. This was a very ambitious album with strong parallels to mid-Seventies Genesis and even a twenty-two-minute-long track. Two years later he came back with the second part of the trilogy. The Bride Said No was a more concise album and really had something like a secret hit with The Quartermaster.
Again it took two years for the final instalment The Regal Bastard, and just like last time, Nad Sylvan has once again cut away the fat and leaves us with a streamlined progressive rock album whose seven regular tracks only take up about three quarters of an hour. Two bonus tracks guarantee that you will not only get the accustomed quality, but also a certain quantity for your money.
At sixty years, Nad Sylvan has an age where many are already retired. But listening to The Regal Bastard will show you that the American born Swedish musician is in his musical prime. The opener I Am The Sea is a multifaceted eight minute tour de force that is an ideal entry point into the album. Everything is perfect here, and the chorus wonít get out of your mind anytime soon. His vocals show strongest parallels to Peter Gabriel, but there are also certain touches of Phil Collins and Fish. The following Oahu is a strange track, at four minutes one of the shorter pieces. Itís actually a shanty about a journey to an island of Hawaii, and the repetitive beat combined with the progressive elements make this at first a weird, but then a truly intriguing piece of never-heard-before prog rock. Whoa (Always Been Without You) is a more melancholic piece, quite nice but frankly at seven and a half minutes overstaying its welcome for at least a little. Things improve again with Meet Your Maker, a somewhat groovy and/or funky piece that combines the typical Nad Sylvan ingredients with a dance mood.
Then comes the title track, at a little over twelve minutes the magnum opus of the album. Its beginning has a somewhat creepy atmosphere ŗ la mid-Seventies Alice Cooper, but taken altogether, The Regal Bastard is a masterpiece of progressive storytelling. Few singers can convey a story like Nad Sylvan. Leave Me On These Waters is a ballad that leads us into the concluding three minute short instrumental Honey Iím Home, the official conclusion to the trilogy, enchanting us a last time with a magic guitar solo by none other than Steve Hackett himself. The two bonus tracks may not be a part of the vampire song cycle, but both have their merits. Diva Time shows the artist from his most androgynous side, and The Lake Isle Of Innisfree is a short but sweet folk song.
Many musicians are at their best early on in their career, but Nad Sylvan does the nearly impossible feat of improving album by album. The Regal Bastard is an excellent addition to his discography, and one can only hope that Nad Sylvan will disregard the retirement age and continue releasing such great music in the future.