Album review: NICK D’VIRGILIO – Invisible

NDV - Invisible

English Electric Recordings [Release date 22.05.20]

NDV is Nick D’Virgilio, the current drummer in Big Big Train, having also played in Spock’s Beard, Genesis and been musical director for Cirque de Soliel.

This is the second solo album from Nick D’Virgilio – his first ‘Karma’ came out in 2001. ‘Invisible’ features many guests including Paul Gilbert, Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick), Carl Verheyen (Supertramp), Tony Levin, Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings), Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) and Jem Godfrey (Frost*).

Nick D’Virgilio describes his new record as, “A collection of songs that make up the story of a man who is unhappy with where his life has ended up. He finally decides to take the scary step of leaving everything behind so he can go and find the meaning of his life.”

Starting off with the instrumental ‘Prelude’, recorded at the Abbey Road studios, it sets the scene nicely for what follows, namely big production songs with a focus on melody at all times. ‘Invisible’ is a gentle number, shades of Spock’s Beard on here. ‘Turn Your Life Around’ packs more punch in the guitars, whilst Jem Godfrey is let loose on some wonderful synth runs.

Nick D’Virgilio certainly mixes it up as ‘I’m Gone’ would appeal to our GRTR! chief with its funky groove and jazz trappings. There is even a bit of harmony vocals a la West Coast AOR midway through. Like a time trip back to the 70’s. ‘Snake Oil Salesman’ could be Styx, a boisterous rocker featuring plenty of harmonies.

‘Money (That’s What I Want)’, first covered by the Beatles and there was a new wave version by the Flying Lizards back in 1979, whereas Nick D’Virgilio’s version is like a bluesy Pink Floyd – very impressive. ‘Where’s The Passion’ is a bold mix of brass, strings and the keyboards of Jordan Rudess.

Couple of other highlights are ‘Mercy’, starting off with the sound of a tube, the song then accelerates through guitars, synths, drums and features Tony Levin on fretless bass and Chapman Stick. ‘In My Bones’ features a Rick Nielsen guitar solo in amongst a funk rock potpourri. Sounds like it shouldn’t work but it does.

Nick D’Virgilio’s vocals are melodic and easy on the ear, and it is credit to him that his drumming doesn’t dominate the music.

Nicely packaged with two inlay sleeves. One is solely about his drum kit set-up for each song, along with commentary on his style of playing on each song.

An intriguing album, full of melody and interesting musical diversions. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

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