Willie Nile Serves Up Timeless Ode to NYC with Rocking ‘New York At Night’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

For the past forty years, Willie Nile has been writing love letters to his adopted home base of New York City. And New York At Night, his 13th studio record, shows that his love is clearly not fading any time soon. The album sets the tone with the opening track, “New York Rockin,’” which name checks everything from Avenue A to the New York Rangers. You’d have to go back to Ace Frehley’s “New York Groove” to find a more passionate, soulful defense of NYC. 

The city, Nile’s home for the past few decades, is the main inspiration for this album; at times subtle (“Doors Of Paradise”), but often more obvious (“New York At Night,” “Downtown Girl” “The Backstreet Slide”). There is a timelessness to his music that is just as true now as it was when he put out his debut in 1980. Nile has stuck to a template of rock, shunning all prefixes, and dodging musical trends that puts him up there with Springsteen and Dylan. The fact that he’s also a stellar songwriter gives credence to that comparison. Even the title track, handled by a lesser talent could come off as little more than a formulaic list of New York-isms, but Nile manages to deftly put a subtly lyrical spin, avoiding clichés and getting across a manically fun vibe.

“The Fool Who Drank The Ocean,” another standout track, is easily one of Nile’s strongest songs in years and destined to be a show staple, you know, if shows are ever a thing again. The same is true for the optimistic closing anthem, “Run Free”. He does occasionally stumble, like on the maudlin “The Last Time We Made Love,” one of the only dim spots here. Forty years after his self-titled debut – after one of the most consistently solid careers in rock – Nile is still putting out some of his best work. For those unfamiliar with Nile, New York At Night is a great starting point.   

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