Willie Nile – The Innocent Ones

January 01, 1970

(Riverhouse Records)




It’s a fool’s game to try and figure out why some musicians
catch on with a segment of the public and some remain on the outskirts, their
names known only to a select few followers who managed to stumble across an
album or a live show. Willie Nile has gotten critical respect from the
beginning of his career back in 1980, but since then, in a series of fits and
starts, he’s only gotten around to releasing seven studio albums. Despite an
ability to write some of the most insinuatingly catchy hooks in all of pop
music, despite an exhilarating love for chiming, Byrds-like guitar riffs,
despite a world view that is romantic, hopeful, and simultaneously aware of
reality’s downsides, Willie Nile has never become the household name that such
contemporaries as Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty have achieved.


The Innocent Ones is more of the same from Nile, eleven high
quality songs that rattle around comfortably in the old noggin and rank up
there with such classics as “Places I Have Never Been,” “Everybody Needs a
Hammer,” “Beautiful Wreck of the World,” or “Cell Phones Ringing (In the
Pockets of the Dead).” If anything, this album is more consistent than the 2009
release House of a Thousand Guitars,
but that might  just be quibbling between
excellent and really, really, good. Once again co-writing most of his songs
with drummer Frankie Lee, Nile comes up with should-be anthems like “One
Guitar,” or “Song For You” (both of which could serve to warm the hearts of
anybody out there looking to change their fortunes), richly complex evocations
of love and respect for those who might seem less than obviously deserving like
“Hear You Breathe” and “Sideways Beautiful,” and just plain joyous pop songs
like the old-school punk “Can’t Stay Home” or the just-plain-catchy “Far Green


Having brought guitar legend Steuart Smith (best known for
his days with Rodney Crowell and Rosanne Cash) into the recording process last
time, Nile cuts down on expenses by having the
two of them play virtually every instrument but drums. The trademark sound is
still there, that layering of guitar lines and sing-along vocal harmonies that
have marked Nile’s work since the beginning.
It is a sound which is instantly uplifting and inviting, and which resonates
deeply and powerfully the more you hear it. The
Innocent Ones
more than deserves the attention most people have yet to pay


Guitar,” “Can’t Stay Home,” “Sideways Beautiful.” STEVE PICK

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