Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs courtesy of The Linda/Andrzej “Andre” Pilarczyk
As Yogi Berra would say, it felt like deja vu all over again – only with a batch of new songs added – when perennial favorite Willie Nile mesmerized The Linda in Albany like few on the scene can. Don’t believe me? Wait till you hear the upcoming broadcast of this show on WAMC-FM…
American Ride, due out later this month, is the latest in a string of superb albums from the New York-based guitarist/pianist. A hearty roar of hello greeted Nile, bassist Johnny Pisano and drummer Alex Alexander. Strapping on an acoustic guitar, Nile mentioned recent stops in Europe and Nashville, and asked the crowd, “Are you ready?!” The lead track to the new album, “This Is Our Time,” provided an answer his question, a carpe diem rocker with wordless harmonies. “Life on Bleecker Street,” also a new song, offered vignettes of Nile’s neighborhood to a propulsive beat by Alexander.
“The Innocent Ones,” a song of protest which Nile dedicated the children “going hungry tonight,” gave voice to the voiceless, punctuated by a melodic solo by Pisano and the crowd on its feet singing along to the chorus. “Things keep coming back to innocence for me,” remarked Nile who dedicated “She’s Got My Heart” to a pair of ardent fans who had driven more than four hours from Ontario. “Far Green Hills,” a song co-written with Frankie Lee on House of a 1000 Guitars, brought to mind Bobby Fuller Four meets the Byrds, especially given Pisano’s use of an octave pedal that lent a 12-string guitar vibe to his solos.