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Music Review: Willie Nile delivers depth, danceable defiance

This cover image released by River House Records shows "Children of Paradise," a release by Willie Nile. (River House Records via AP)

(AP) -- Willie Nile, "Children of Paradise" (River House Records)

    "I wanna be a painting; I don't wanna be a sketch."

    Willie Nile, who embraces this noble objective in the song "Lookin' for Someone," delivers depth and a dose of danceable defiance in his best album to date.

    His timely depictions of the human condition, fueled by the never-say-die rock revolution, hit the sweet spot on lots of levels.

    "Don't let the (rhymes with suckers) kill your buzz!" urges Nile -- a musical mantra that's useful for so many situations.

    Touches of whimsy and tender love songs buffer the uppercuts. But Nile can't stay out of the fray for long.

    He grapples with greed; environmental destruction; homelessness. The title cut references a destitute boy planning a border crossing.

    Some intros sneak up the fuse, then -- BOOM! -- instant earworm.

    "I, I -- I, I defy you!" the band declares.

    The equally rowdy, fan-inspired "Rock 'n' Roll Sister" is sheer joy.

    There's also a taste of Nile's artistically licensed religious imagery.

    In "Gettin' Ugly Out There," the Baby Jesus flees town on a train, wondering what he's going to "tell the Old Man."

    Amid angelic-sounding backing vocals, the album's finale offers hope and reassurance: One day, "All God's children gonna sing."

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