Places I Have Never Been
It’s taken a full decade for singer-songwriter Willie Nile to put out his third album, Places I Have Never Been, and it sounds like the work of a guy who’s been itching, bursting, exploding to say something for 10 long years. Nile’s previous collections were widely praised commercial bombs; he came off as a talented fellow deeply influenced by Bob Dylan’s brawny folk-rock and Bruce Springsteen’s overwrought poetic earnestness. Places also fits that description, but Nile has exhausted the usefulness of these influences. Words crowd his new songs, which bristle with grand pronouncements and fussed-over images. On ”Renegades,” the man proves he can really mix a metaphor: ”The visitors roomed in the halls of desire/Where waterfalls burned on the blankets of fire.” Nile deserves respect as an all-too-sincere craftsman and hard worker, but next time around (in 2001?), he should take a deep breath and relax a little.