Reviews

Willie Nile’s The Day the Earth Stood Still


By Brian Rock

New York indie maverick, Willie Nile tries to make sense of the new normal on his seventeenth studio release, The Day The Earth Stood Still. Teetering wildly from angst to hope to protest to compassion, Nile incorporates elements of rock, folk, punk, funk and country to give expression to the emotional roller coaster we’ve all been riding this past year.

The title song leads off with jangly guitars and Hammond organ in a surge of optimistic power chords. That mood is soon betrayed by the angst-ridden lyrics as Nile sings, “There was panic in the cities. There was terror in the towns. There were tear drops falling on every street the day it all came down.” The song captures the sense of confusion, panic and heightened awareness of the early days of Covid, but the musical arrangement defiantly offers hope for better days ahead.

With a voice that’s somewhere between Graham Parker and early Bob Dylan, Nile creates a distinctive Folk/Punk fusion that has earned him a cult following. Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townsend and Lou Reed have all publicly expressed their admiration for his work. He must me doing something right, because, along with The Fleshtones, Nile is the last of the CBGB era indie rockers still standing.

He brings that defiant, indie spirit to the proto-punk energy of, “Where There’s A Willie There’s A Way.” He incorporates Buddy Holly rhythms and vocal phrasings on “Sanctuary.” Steve Earle joins him for the bluesy protest song, “Blood On Your Hands.” Nile adds vintage, 70’s funk to “Expect Change,” and “Time To Be Great.” The tender “I Don’t Remember You,” sees Nile stretch into country territory. He returns to straight folk on, “The Justice Bell (For John Lewis,)” and the reassuring, “I Will Stand.”

A true individual, Willie Nile has never been led astray by musical fads or studio gimmickry. The Day The Earth Stood Still, finds Nile in his stride; still making meaningful music into his fifth decade as a recording artist.

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Brian Rock

Brian Rock

Brian was raised gypsy style, moving every other year until well after college. As friendships proved to be temporary, Brian found a constant companion in music, wearing the grooves off Beatles and Dylan albums before moving on to Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yokam. Living so often in flux, he has come to value music and lyrics of lasting quality. Not moved by trends or fashion, he is drawn to timeless lyrics and soulful rhythms. Although now settled down, Brian still expresses his gypsy spirit through his writing. He has co-written songs with musician friends he’s met along the way, including several contributions to the 2012 ICMA Album of the Year, Family Album. Brian also writes children’s books and poems, including the Children’s Book Council featured title, The Deductive Detective.
Brian Rock

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