Willie Nile is back with a new album, The Day The Earth Stood Still. This is his second album in the last two years as New York at Night was released in May 2020 just as the world shut down for the pandemic.
As you can tell by its title The Day The Earth Stood Still is influenced by the crises the world is still trying to come to grips with. While Nile’s music usually reflects the world around him and comments on social issues, this one is more directly connected to what’s been on everybody’s mind.
While the album’s title track, ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’, and the searing attack on those who failed us during the pandemic, “Blood On Your Hands”, (featuring a guest vocal appearance from Steve Earl) reflect much of the shock and anger we’ve all felt over the last eighteen months, others are more subtle in their reactions.
One of them is the almost silly, “Off My Medication”. After a litany of behaviour that people use being off their medication as an excuse for doing, Nile slides in this lyric. “Somehow in this world there’s got to be a better way/For us to make peace and love the order of the day/Put all the politicians on a ship and out to sea/Baby that’s what I would do if it was up to me/Cause I’m off my medication”
If you’re not careful you’ll miss it. The world is off its medication and we need something to righten the ship and get our priorities straight. However, he’s not lecturing us, he’s just sliding it into our subconscious so maybe we’ll keep thinking about it.
Nile also finds time on the album to include a tribute to John Lewis, the African American civil rights leader who was in the forefront of the voter registration drives in the 1960s. “The Justice Bell” doesn’t mention Lewis by name, but in its praise of liberty and freedom it evokes the spirit of the man. With voter’s rights under attack across the United States this is a timely reminder of how important the fight to ensure everybody’s right to vote matters today as much as it did 60 years ago.
Musically The Day Earth Stood Still shows Nile to be as versatile as ever. Equally at home rocking the house down as he is singing an intimate song from behind his piano he lives up to his reputation as one of the troubadours of our times. This is a great album of timely and intelligent music a heartfelt and aware songwriter.