Streets of New York
The New York-based singer/songwriter is back with only about his fifth studio album in his quarter-century long career, but it's a stunner. The fourteen song album is great, tuneful rock 'n' roll with engaging music and lyrical bite in the grand style of rock troubadours like Elvis Costello and Lou Reed.
Nile began life in Buffalo, New York, and eventually landed in New York City knocking on doors as a burgeoning folksinger. His first album came out in 1980, but after his sophomore release Nile got stuck in record label purgatory forcing an 11 year hiatus from recording. After a couple of uneven albums in the '90s, Nile is finally getting his career back on track with some terrific self-released albums.
Nile is a terrific songwriter, and his abilities are firing on all cylinders on Streets of New York. In the song "Back Home", Nile crafts a Dylanesque possible self-portrait which seems to comment on his own early career rise and fall: "I joined a rock 'n' roll band, made five hundred grand/saw it all turn to sand." But throughout all the travails he's still trying to find his way home.
He offers a vibrant snapshot of New York life in "The Day I Saw Bo Diddley in Washington Square." Describing the various characters in attendance at the titular outdoor concert, Nile writes, "There were hipsters and pop stars and posers galore/The kind of location politicians adore."
"Cell Phone Ringing (In the Pockets of the Dead)" was written after the Madrid train bombings. It uses various real and fictional characters from The Count of Monte Cristo to Aristotle to reflect on various aspects of the modern madness of our world, while Nile the observer, scratches his head trying to make some sense of it all. "Everybody's lookin' for what they cannot find," he sings. "I'm down here on Bleeker Street tryin' to read your mind."
Nile's music ranges from the mandolin-laced rootsy-rock of "Asking Annie Out" and "Game of Fools" to the anthemic original reggae of "When One Stands."
Whether you've previously been a fan of Nile's music or not, Streets of New York is an excellent album and deserves recognition as among the best that 2006 has to offer as yet.