In an interview I conducted with him last September, I referred to Willie Nile as The Troubadour Of New York City. It may seem like an archaic word to use for describing a modern day musician as it evokes images of someone in a floppy hat playing a lute and singing verses recounting histories or epic romances. However, there was more to those song smiths of old than that, as they also roamed the country keeping track of events in the realm, which they would recount to their listeners along with their more traditional pieces. In either case the songs helped people to understand the world around them
I don't know whether Willie Nile owns a floppy hat, but on his forthcoming release House Of A Thousand Guitars (it comes out on his own River House Records label April 14), Willie Nile proves once again just how adept he is at both elements of the troubadours art. For whether he's singing about something topical as in "Now That The War Is Over," or simply about living in the world as with "Little Light," Nile's is unerring in his ability in bringing his subject matter to life.
There's something about the combination of his music and the sound of Nile's voice that assures the listener of both his honesty and the depth of his passion for whatever it is he is singing about. Even on a song that in another's hands — like the title track "House Of A Thousand Guitars" where he expresses his respect and admiration for various folk in the music industry both dead and alive — would sound cheaply sentimental at best, and cliched at worse his sincerity is obvious. The genuineness of his enthusiasm for what he is singing about comes through. Unlike other songs of this type which glorify the dead, this song is a celebration of the music and the pleasure it has brought all of us over the years.
The twelve songs on the disc are divided equally between two sets of musicians. The harder edged cuts being played by the band he refers to as the Worry Dolls: Andy York (guitar), Brad Albetta (bass), and Rich Pagano (drums), while long time collaborator Frankie Lee (drums), Stuart Smith (guitar), and Stewart Lerman (bass) backed him on the six, more ballad-like tunes. While the band might change dependent on whether Nile is intent on rocking the house or moving a little slower, he doesn't change his straight from the heart approach to the material.