The Day The Earth Stood Still
River House Records
The Elder Statesman of NY Rock & Roll Continues His Creative Roll with Emotive and Catchy Lockdown Tales
Willie Nile is on a roll, after the well-received “New York at Night” comes “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, which in effect is a lockdown record, inspired by Nile’s personal response to the empty streets of New York during 2020’s COVID times.
The opening title track, The Day The Earth Stood Still, is Dylan-esque in its chord progression but like Tom Petty on steroids – it also quotes from the cult 50’s science-fiction film of the same name and is a hook-laden delight.
“Sanctuary”, which follows, starts with a spooky church organ before hitting a Springsteen/Blondie groove with bouncing double-drum beat rhythms – and is yet another total earworm.
“Where There’s Willie, There’s a Way” is a jokily self-promoting Ramonesesque stomp, and the double-entendres seem to be fully intentional, when Willie sings – amongst other things that “The crown jewels are on display”.
Nile’s neighbour Steve Earle pops up on the AC/DC chug-along, “Blood On Your Hands” which takes a lyrical swerve from the humour of the preceding track to demonstrate a social critique an and commentary on those in power – it’s angry ……
“Hell will remember all the times you’ve lied”
and it’s delivered with the right amount of rage by both Earle and Nile in sympatico.
“The Justice Bell” (For John Lewis)” takes a musical step back into gentler territory but still presents a defiant face of a wish to carry on the work of John Lewis in the eternal quest for truth and justice –
“The justice bell will not be stilled/Hear it ring”.
“Expect Change” is reminiscent in feel to Blondie’s “Rapture” and is another paean to the one certainty in life; and the repeated refrain of “it’s coming” underscores the Ozymandias like message that “great” things are but transient.
“I Don’t Remember You” takes a more personal lyrical path and is another in the fine tradition of Nile’s New York character/relationship vignettes. T
here’s an upping in pace again with the joie de vivre of “Off My Medication” and it’s almost stream of consciousness hyperactive lyrical delivery suits the humorously confessional tale of life released from its shackles, with the narrator stating that
“…now I’m running naked with a Bible round the block”
(Upon hearing that for the first time, I was expecting a different word that rhymes with “block” to be honest, but this is just as funny) – great handclaps and singalong title too!
Juxtaposed with this is the gently picked expression of romantic solidarity “I Will Stand.”
Penultimate track “Time to Be Great” slips back into funkier territory and is a positive call to arms in times of uncertainty – no better time than now to do what the hell you need to do!
Album closer “Way Of The Heart” is another Springsteenesque power ballad about the redemptive power of love, community and communion
“remember when you’re all alone, you’re not the only one”
it’s an infectious optimism in the face of inevitable change and momentary hardship that pervades this album.
Yet again, Willie Nile pulls one out of the top drawer and his fire continues to burn strong and brightly.
As I said at the start of this review – Mr Nile is very much on a creative roll – keep it coming!
Review by Nick Barber
Released August 13th 2021
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