The pun may be unintentional, but that makes it no less perfect. With a name like Willie Nile, it was just a matter of time before the guy made an album called If I Was a River. Still, although he's too unpretentious to underscore it, don't let the wordplay fool you. Like his friend Bruce Springsteen's similarly titled record from 1980, Nile's River is deep, sometimes dark, and ultimately a sweeping summation of his four decades in music. Also in profound contrast to his last disc, the rightly rewarded, hard-rockin' American Ride, Nile's new release is a stark, heartbreaking work, built on his solid solo piano playing.
Photo by Cristina Arrigoni Willie Nile has severe Resting Shredder Face.
Aside from a little sweetening, the record's not just superbly written and played. In these days of finding your formula and sticking to it, it's also heartening. This is an artist who follows the muse and needed to make a record that's as different from his last one as the Hudson is from the Potomac. You know, like Neil Young. Except instead of clunking the keys like a drunk who's commandeered the piano at your cousin's wedding, this artist had classical training as a kid. Primitivism has its place. But Nile's style works better for forging his River.More »