New York at Night is the latest release from the indomitable and irrepressible Willie Nile. While born in Buffalo NY, Nile is indelibly identified with his adopted home town of New York City (NYC), and this album is his tribute and homage to the beauty and diversity of the city. The lyrics and the music convey the joie de vive of the man and the city to the listener with the grit and passion we’ve come to expect from both.
I’ve long thought music from NYC should be a genre on to itself. Broadway musicals, the songwriters’ garrets in the Brill building, Rap and Hip Hop, sophisticated Jazz, rough blues, folk from the Village and rock and roll from the streets. Sure they can be heard in cities all over the world, but what comes out of NYC has a flavour all of its own and Nile seems to epitomize that taste.
Nile is best known as a rocker, but as the new album shows that barely scratches the surface of what he has to offer. While the opening track, “New York is Rocking”, is what you’d expect from its title, an uptempo look at all the city has to offer in the way of entertainment from baseball to opera, other songs delve deeper into the psyche of the city.
They also show off Nile’s incredible musical and lyrical diversity. Take the album’s third song. “Doors of Paradise”. Here, Nile and his band have incorporated an Afro-pop feel into the song which draws us into the song with its infectious rhythm. Aside from giving the tune an added dimension, and reflecting the multitude of musical influences in NYC, it shows that even after all these years of making records Nile is still pushing his music in different directions.
However this isn’t just an uptempo album. While there’s plenty of rocking numbers to keep anybody moving, Nile also gives us a couple of beautiful slower songs, “The Last Time We Made Love” and “Under This Roof”. While the former is an evocative love song describing the sounds and rhythms of the world surrounding a pair of lovers as they lay in bed, the latter is a wonderful expression welcome and shelter: “Under this roof you’ll find forgiveness/Under this roof you’ll find a bed/Under this roof there will be shelter where you can lay your head”.
Nile may not have written and recorded New York at Night during the recent crises, but the songs are all the more poignant considering the current situation in NYC. These songs represent the beating heart and strength of a city that has seen a lot of adversity over the years and offers hope for a new beginning
Willie Nile has been creating music in NYC for decades and New York at Night reflects his love for its people and the city. This is a great album from a wonderful musician and should take pride of place in everybody’s NYC music section.