Willie Nile Delivers Angst In Your Face/Rock n’ Roll Gem with ‘Children of Paradise’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

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Called by some the “unofficial poet laureate of New York City,” Willie Nile’s twelfth studio album, Children of Paradise, easily ranks among his best. The angst and in-your-face passion strike immediately in the opening “Seeds of a Revolution,” with its infectious rock n’ roll hooks and memorable lines like – “The seed of the revolution are planted in my heart/I water them with human tears every day we are apart.” It’s a harbinger of what’ to come.  Nile holds virtually nothing back.

”All Dressed Up and No Place to Go” carries the punk attitude and signals a kind of apocalypse that Dylan captured in “Desolation Row.” Consider the last verse – “Don Juan playin’ on a slide trombone/Annabelle Lee she ain’t got no home/Time Bomb’s tickin’ some could care less/It’s Noah’s Ark for us I guess.” Then he amps up the pissed off attitude in “Don’t.” Nile delivers scathing commentary in “Earth Blues “and rails again in “Getting’ Ugly Out There” and “I Defy.”  However, he does let up. He’s not completely bent on political protest. He’s trying to lift our spirits through music, sharing what many of us are feeling, and finding some joy in love songs too.

The deeply felt “Lookin’ for Someone” was co-written with long-time friend Andrew Dorff, who authored huge country hits for Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Dierks Bentley and Blake Shelton. Dorff died unexpectedly after the song was recorded and Nile has dedicated the album to him. “Have I Ever Told You” has equally tender moments. The title track and the closing “All God’s Children” are hymns of optimism for a better world going forward.

The album just brims with enthusiasm, anger, and hope. Nile says, “I thought from the time I started putting this album together that it was going to be something special. It’s full of fire and passion and spirit, and it feels like real life to me. The songs come out of the box roaring and rocking, yet there are also songs of intimacy and tenderness.  It’s go the power and promise of what I love best about rock n’ roll. It’s heartfelt, pissed off, in love, on fire and out of its mind all at the same time. A perfect recipe for a good party and a great album.”

Nile plays acoustic and electric guitars and piano alongside his veteran road band: Matt Hogan (guitar), Johnny Pisano (bass), and Jon Weber (drums).  Co-producer, Grammy winner, and long-time collaborator Stewart Lerman and Nile augmented the lineup with some special players. Renowned guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Steuart Smith (Eagles/Rosanne Cash) and keyboardist Andy Burton (John Mayer/Rufus Wainwright) join along with fellow singer-songwriters James Maddock and Frankie Lee as well as Leslie Mendelson on background vocals.

The striking portraits on the cover and booklet deserve mention too. Nile says that these are regular people that live in his Greenwich Village neighborhood captured by the noted Italian photographer Cristina Arrigoni. Some are homeless, some are not. Nile says, “They are on the outside fringes of society but they’re all the children of paradise, as are all of us. Cristina Arrigoni brings out a dignity in them that is beautiful, deep and moving.”

With its art, lyrics, and unequivocally brilliant rock n’ roll – Nile is beautiful, deep, and moving too.

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