NDV - Karma

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Ear Candy
Catalog Number: ECRCD 004
Format: CD
Total Time: 64:26:00

NDV is Nick D'Virgilio, best known as the drummer with Spock's Beard, but who has also lent his percussive talents to a variety of artists, including the defunct Genesis. Although I was familiar with Spock's Beard via their debut The Light, it was this Genesis album, Calling All Stations, that brought Nick's name into focus for me, and at the time was the focal point for me regarding Spock's Beard. Then Neal Morse released a solo album and seemed to pull out in front, being the name one knows even if they care nothing for, or know little about, Spock's Beard. So, it's nice that Nick gets to have some space of his own, to have an identity other than "the rest of Spock's Beard." I'm sure that over stating the balance just a bit, but then again, with Morse in Transatlantic, it's his name that gets mentioned most often (in terms of Spock's Beard).

So, over in this quiet, unassuming world is what seems like a very modest man, Nick D'Virgilio. This is not to marginalize his debut solo release, by any means. Fortunately, there is very little of Spock's Beard to be found here. Out of 11 tracks, only one even brought the band to mind. Which makes this solidly his statement - though that isn't to say there are some seasonings here and there and some evidence of influence by others. Karma is what could be called a progressive MOR/country/roots rock/hard rock album. And maybe progressive, in a strict sense, is pushing it. Lyrically, we have tracks that examine aspects of the human condition - mostly the after-effects of emotional bruising. Disappearing and being invisible are images that creep up often, as metaphors for wanting to escape whatever world one is in. That is, folks who see their fate - their karma - written on the wall and want to change. Heavy subjects, presented in a measured, often understated way. But never does one get the sense that D'Virgilio is shying away from anything. The concluding thought which comes in part three of "Paying The Price" is "When there's a time of unknowing move ahead and hold on." If wanting to disappear is giving in, when the facile reassurance of being loved is enough to forget all wrongs ("Forgiven"), then this is the manifestation of the throughline in "Karma" - "You can't hide when your karma follows you."

What shouldn't be the entire focus of the album is a track that comes in the number 7 slot -- that is "Come What May." I'll begin this by saying that this track reminds me a lot of a similarly titled song in Moulin Rouge -- and just what is it about that movie that makes me hear "pre-echoes" in others' material? (Having made this comparison at least once or twice before elsewhere). I'm not sure, but this David Baerwald penned tune has that..."Moulin Rouge thing." However, here's the kicker, at least for me -- "Come What May" IS the song from Moulin Rouge. There are some differences, obviously instrumentally, but also here and there with the lyrics. But, discovering this fact made me chuckle. D'Virgilio's rendition is sparser and more intimate than what appears in the movie. It is D'Virgilio performing alone on drums, guitar, bass and piano. In digging around for info about this song, I learned that it is mere coincidence that it appears on Karma. That the song (MR version) was nominated for a Golden Globe might lead folks to this album (and to Baerwald), and to the other gems that are to be found here.

And so, onward to the rest of the album. While the first track opens the album like gangbusters, in the less heavy rock moments, what I hear is a dash of Garth Brooks ("Dream In Red"), a dash or two of the Eagles (circa Desperado) and Glenn Frey, and, of course, Kevin Gilbert. D'Virgilio acknowledges the late songsmith who passed away nearly 6 years ago now. His muse carries on here. He even guests on "The Game" where the piano and 12 string electric guitar is Gilbert, a song he co-wrote.

Now, I have to admit that because I do like Garth Brooks and Frey and Gilbert, all that D'Virgilio has done here is welcome to my ears. I quite like "Dream In Red," "The Game," and "The Water's Edge". The title track is an interesting piece - the rhythmic African-like percussion here provides a warm and inviting atmosphere ... it's a track that is lyrically clever and insightful while the rhythm makes you want to dance...the conga! "The Game" is a track like the Beard's "June" and in album of mostly strong tracks, this is one of the strongest. "The Water's Edge" has a classic sound, the kind of measured, laid back 70s soft rock. It is one part Kenny Loggin's "Celebrate Me Home," but, in listening to it, I had this lyric fragment from a different song floating around in my head that I a) could not shake and b) couldn't recall which song it belonged to. The story is long and spans two days and many hours of searching, and because of that, I'll share only this part with you. If you imagine a stripped down version ELO's "Strange Magic" (the verses), and sung by Glenn Frey, then this is that 70's classic sound I'd try to describe. Though it gets rockier about halfway through, it doesn't loose it's Freyness, and falls somewhere between roots rock and country rock. Though from the first few seconds of the track, one would think we'd get something very angular and industrial.

The instrumental "Untitled" sounds a bit like the theme music for "The Rockford Files" (a 70's TV detective series starring James Garner) -- thin, parpy keys initially take the lead (D'Virgilio) before letting heavy, "down 'n dirty" guitar and bass take the lead (again NDV). It's a nice and textured instrumental that builds towards a point where you'd expect lyrics to begin. "Will It Be Me" has an easy, mellow (and somewhat SB) feel that says instant classic/single. Guests on this track are Rick Mussallam on electric guitar, Dave Carpenter on bass and Ryo Okumoto on piano, with drums and guitar by NDV. The layered vocals also suggest SB, and America just a little bit.

Overall, the album's feel is very earthy, very... well, the impression is that it is mostly acoustic, though it is not. There are a few tracks that maybe needed a little more work, the opening track being one of them, but this is a strong debut.

Also released by SPV/InsideOut (SPV 085 41682) and the now defunct InsideOut Music America (IOMACD 2026)

The River Is Wide (7:12) / Dream In Red (4:35) / Forgiven (3:09) / Karma (3:12) / The Game (4:07) / The Waters Edge (6:29) / Come What May (5:11) / Untitled (3:26) / Will It Be Me (4:16) / Anything (3:55) / Paying The Price - Dysfunction (4:32) - Paid The Price (5:45) - Unknowing (8:45)

NDV - vocals, drums, guitar, keyboards, programming, percussion, bass
Mike Keneally - guitar, piano
Bryan Bellar - bass
Rick Mussallam - guitar
Dave Carpenter - bass
Peter Plumeri - background vocals
Kevin Gilbert - piano, guitar
Alan Morse - guitar, cello
Ryo Okumoto - keyboards
Mike Johnson - Wurlitzer

Spock's Beard - The Light (1991)
Taja Seville - Fountains Free (1991)
Kevin Gilbert - Thud (1994)
Various - Tales From Yesterday - Yes Tribute (1995)
Spock's Beard - Beware of Darkness (1995)
Spock's Beard - The Beard Is Out There Live (1995)
Spock's Beard - Official Live Bootleg (1996)
Various - Supper's Ready - Genesis Tribute (1996)
Spock's Beard - The Kindness of Strangers (1997)
Kim Cuda - Waiting For Solace (1997)
Genesis - Calling All Stations (1997)
Spock's Beard - From The Vault - 1995-1998 (1998)
Neal Morse - Neal Morse (1999)
Spock's Beard - Day For Night (1999)
Spock's Beard - Live At The Whiskey and NEARfest (1999)
Jonatha Brooke - Live (1999)
David Baerwald & The New Folk Underground - A Fine Mess (1999)
Sasha Sitkovetsky - Emtpy Arena (1999)
Spock's Beard - Don't Try This At Home (2000)
Neal Morse & Nick D'Virgilio - Two Seperate Gorillas ? Live In Europe (2000)
Duncan Faure - Pronounced Four-Uh (2000)
Spock's Beard - V (2000)
Kyle Vincent - Wow & Flutter (2001)
Roland Orzabal - Tomcats Screaming Outside (2001)
Neal Morse - It's Not Too Late (2001)
Karma (2001)
Spock's Beard - Snow (2002)
Paul Alan - Fall Awake (2002)
Ryo Okumoto - Coming Through (2002)
The Rubinoos - Crimes Against Music (2002)
David Baerwald - Here Comes The Folk Underground (2002)
Kaviar - The Kaviar Sessions (2002)
Lana Lane - Covers Collection (2002)
Spock's Beard - Feel Euphoria (2003)
Bryan Beller - View (2003)
Various - A Fair Forgery (2003)
Spock's Beard - The Light - The Artwork Collector's Series (2004)
Mike Keneally Band - Dog (2004)
Live And Acoustic (2004)
Spock's Beard - Octane (2005)
Spock's Beard - Gluttons For Punishment (2005)
Spock's Beard - Spock's Beard (2006)
Big Big Train - The Difference Machine (2007)
Spock's Beard - Live (2008)
Big Big Train - The Underfall Yard (2009)
Spock's Beard - X (2010)
Big Big Train - Far Skies Deep Time (2010)
Big Big Train - English Electric Part One (2012)
Big Big Train - English Electric Part Two (2013)
Big Big Train - Make Some Noise (2013)
Big Big Train - English Electric: Full Power (2013)
Big Big Train - Wassail (2015)
Spock's Beard - The Oblivion Particle (2015)
Big Big Train - Folklore (2016)
The Fringe - The Fringe (2016)
Big Big Train - Grimspound (2017)
Big Big Train - The Second Brightest Star (2017)
Spock's Beard - Noise Floor (2018)

Spock's Beard - The Beard Is Out There Live (VID) (1995)
Spock's Beard - Don't Try This At Home & The Making Of V (DVD) (2002)
Spock's Beard - Live And Acoustic (DVD) (2004)
Spock's Beard - Live (2008)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: April 21st 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Hits: 600
Language: english


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