The Bride Said No

Nad Sylvan

Nad Sylvan is a towering presence in progressive music these days — both literally and musically. For a proper glimpse of his talents, just listen/watch him alongside guitar maestro Steve Hackett during his “Revisited” Genesis-themed concerts. It’s always easy for Sylvan to assume the theatrical skin of Peter Gabriel as his distinctive vocals harbor both traces of the superstar, as well as Dave Cousins, another husky favorite who catapulted Strawbs to the heights of progressive folk.

But it’s important to note that Sylvan also enjoys telling his own tales, whether they dance the dance of the macabre or the celebratory. On his new release The Bride Said No, Sylvan steps more confidently into the frontman role as he unleashes eight tracks of hard-hitting musical theatre. I’m inclined to agree with Sylvan’s use of the term “musical theatre” to describe the album – there’s catchiness, camp and a universal storyline (marriage) that may keep listeners away from an actual altar but keep them intrigued nonetheless.

The creepy toy piano overtones on album opener “Bridesmaids,” set the overall mood of the album. Sylvan previously set a vampiric trajectory in motion on his prior release Courting The Widow, and he now commits to continuing the tale. “When the Music Dies” is somewhat sinister but a great vocal exercise as the towering Swede flirts with the upper register of his vocals. “The White Crown” dabbles in darkness while maintaining a classic baroque beat. “What Have You Done” is a genuine standout thanks to the dual guitar solos from Steve Hackett and English musician Guthrie Govan.

While “Crime of Passion” proves to be the hardest track on the album as Sylvan seemingly soars to territories explored naturally by bands like Opeth, the album’s title track is a coy, flirtatious romp featuring the talents of vocalist Tania Doko; it’s a true merging of the light and the black. Though I’m more inclined to enjoy Sylvan’s greatness as a musical partner of Hackett’s, it is refreshing to hear him stand out The Bride Said No from the legends that have brought his name into progressive consciousness. All that’s left to be determined is what topic and soundscapes he will explore with his next release.

~ Ira Kantor

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