Following on from the success of the ‘Vampirate Trilogy’, Nad Sylvan has followed his muse, his own ‘Spiritus Mundi’, and along with co-collaborator Andrew Laitress, decided to write an album around the words of Irish poet W.B. Yeats. The lyrics for the track The Lake Isle Of Innesfree on The Regal Bastard were also by Yeats, so Sylvan decided to use the words already written as the basis for his next release. This album marks a shift from his previous albums, with the focus being more on lyrics and vocals. There are none of the Gothic undertones or the melancholy of The Bride Said No or Courting The Widow, and not having to write lyrics gave Nad more time to concentrate on the music – and also being off the road in 2020 provided more opportunity to spend time on the project, to produce what is regarded as his best work to date.
Nad has certainly chosen some weighty topics to get his head around. W.B. Yeats was fascinated by the myths and legends of Ireland and his words, full of double meanings, are capable of many different interpretations, which he left up to the imagination of the reader. The bleak The Second Coming implies, ‘as man looks ahead, instead of seeing light, there’ll be only darkness. Instead of being saved, he’ll be destroyed.’ By contrast, the beautiful To An Isle In The Water is claimed to be a reference to King Arthur sailing away to the Isle of Avalon to lick his wounds. The bittersweet tone of The Witch & the Mermaid brings Nick Drake to mind with its autumnal feel, while The Fisherman, released as a single, is a depiction of Yeats’ ideal reader, someone he regarded as a ‘simple but wise’ man, in the form of a fisherman.
Spiritus Mundi is very likely the best work Nad Sylvan has ever done. Every track on the record is well crafted and performed, and it’s an album of which it can be said there isn’t one wasted note. The music is delightful and understated, and on tracks like The Realists, he shares vocals with Andrew Laitress. As always, Nad has the crème of prog musicians backing him, with luminaries such as Hackett and Tony Levin playing behind him. This could, and deserves to be, the album which pushes Nad further into the spotlight, and away from the view that he’s simply ‘Hackett’s vocalist’, towards being a ‘name’ in his own right.