Willie Nile is well known as a singer/songwriter and a rock musician, which is why over 30 years into his career, an album like If I Was a River might come as a surprise to some. The LP finds Nile trading in a guitar for a piano, writing tunes centered on the ebony and ivory keys. Of course, Nile has played piano on his records since his 1980 self-titled debut, but never has his music been so rooted in keyboard composition. It’s a move that doesn’t fundamentally change the sound he’s come to build over his lengthy career; rather, it offers a new look at things that have always been present in his style.
Nile says to PopMatters about the tune, “It’s a song about the mystery of love and the backstreet magic that happens when two people become one. Steuart Smith plays some beautiful guitar on it. It came out better than I hoped it would.”
If I Was a River is out on November 11th through River House.