Willie Nile: If I Was A River

Pared to the bone life/career assessing triumph from street-rock veteran.

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A stylistic sharp U-turn away from 2013’s American Ride, Nile’s latest album is a reflective revelation. Beloved by Springsteen and Lucinda Williams, Nile has long planned to focus on his magisterial keyboard ballads.

These valiantly elegiac odes – the title track, Once In A Lullaby and the confessional I Don’t Do Crazy (Anymore)! – suggest it was all a matter of time, life experience the essential ingredient, to bring forth the full fruits of classical training ingrained in childhood.

The scurrilous Lullaby Loon (‘rock’n’roll’s a crock of shit’) appears off kilter, but actually emboldens the central conceit: Willie the lone figure baring all while maintaining the complete artistic control he’s long fought for.

Perhaps a man calling himself Nile was always bound to make an album with a powerful river metaphor at its core, and this doesn’t disappoint./o:p

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