"This is our journey/this is our place/this is our time.”
That’s the first chorus out of Willie Nile’s mouth on American Ride, his brilliant new album, and this writer and long-time fan is praying that THIS be Willie’s time.
Once again, the man has delivered a brilliant collection of insightful tunes that rock without mercy.
“It’s pretty rockin’ over all, but there are some left turns and right turns along the way,” Nile says of the album, which was fan-funded through Pledgemusic.com.
“There are songs about the rights of man, songs about freedom, songs about love and hate, songs about loss, songs about God and the absence of God, and songs about standing up for your fellow man. It’s upbeat and full of life. I’m thrilled with how it came out.”
“We’re taking 95 to F-L-A/once we hit the Keys/gonna make a toast/head out west to the California coast,” he sings with a warm raspiness on the infectious, country-fried title track.
The tune was penned by Nile and the Alarm’s Mike Peters, who is experiencing a resurgence himself as the leader of the reconstituted Big Country.
Over the 11 tracks on American Ride, many roads seem to lead back to his beloved Manhattan. “Life on Bleecker Street” and “Sunrise in New York City” are simple songs that chronicle everyday life observations in the Big Apple.
Those of us who have seen Nile’s fiery reading of Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died” during Joe Hurley’s annual Irish Rock and Soul revues will be pleased to know that Nile recorded it here as a tribute to both Carroll, who passed away in 2009, and to Nile’s late brother John.
American Ride features scorching backup from Nile’s live band — guitarist Matt Hogan, bassist Johnny Pisano, drummer Alex Alexander, and Nile on guitar and piano — along with guest appearances by Eagles guitarist Steuart Smith and New York singer-songwriters James Maddock and Leslie Mendelson.
Nile also worked with some notable songwriting collaborators, including Eric Bazilian of the Hooters, who co-wrote “God Laughs.” “God smokes/he plans to quit before he croaks,” Nile sings, tongue firmly in cheek as the guitars crackle behind him.
Nile’s catchy rock melodies and insightful lyrics make him a songwriter’s songwriter. His high-profile fans include Bruce Springsteen, with whom he’s guested onstage on multiple occasions, and Pete Townshend, who personally requested him as the opening act on the Who’s 1982 U.S. tour.
Other avowed Nile admirers include Bono, Lou Reed and Paul Simon. Not bad for a guy named Robert Noonan, who began rocking in his bedroom in an Irish Catholic Buffalo household many moons ago!
It’s been fun to follow Nile ever since 1999, the year he released the classic Beautiful Wreck of the World. I missed the first wave of Nile which had marked the start of an exciting new chapter in his career. Since then, the man seems incapable of writing a bad song!
“She’s Got My Heart” slows things down a bit, and it’s just about one of the best love songs I’ve heard in many moons. Take an American Ride with Willie Nile and he’ll get your heart in the process.
Check him out on www.willienile.com.
Check out 'American Ride' here: