Willie Nile - The Day the Earth Stood Still

by Kevin Wierzbicki

While commercial success has for the most part eluded him, Nile has since the 1980 release of his debut album been a critic's darling with a fan base that includes Bruce Springsteen, Little Steven, Pete Townshend, Lucinda Williams and the late Lou Reed. The thing that all of those acts have in common is that they possess strong songwriting skills as does Nile. "The Day the Earth Stood Still," despite its citing of the phrase "klaatu barada nikto" from the 1951 film "The Day the Earth Stood Still," is not really about an alien invasion; it's a treatise on modern day social ills couched in sci-fi imagery. Nile reveals a bit of his history on the optimistic "Where There's a Willie There's a Way," a co-write with Michael Des Barres with amusing lyrics like "You may be up you may be down/You may be a circus clown/You can climb down from your tree/Grab a phone and dial me." "Blood on Your Hands" is structured a lot like a Steve Earle song, and for good reason; Earle guests on the cut. "Expect Change" is a psychedelic disco groove, "Off My Medication" is another cut with amusing lyrics although all the crazy antics mentioned in the song have probably been reality for someone somewhere. This impressive 11-song set of mostly rockers wraps up with the subdued "Way of the Heart," a cut about the lasting power of love.

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