The City Destroyed Me
The third album from the mop-haired music man from PEI could very well have been subtitled The Trials of a Young Man Who Lost His Way. Temptation, indulgence, elation, euphoria, clarity, crash, despair, escape (though with permanent scars) and redemption: it’s all here. Visually, the cover art shows a drooping Wiley standing before a jury in courtroom-sketch style. On the inside flap, the artist sits worried, dark circles under his eyes. Even the folding liner pulls out to reveal a collage of newspaper clippings, as if someone’s observing all this with interest. Like Danny Michel and Luke Doucet, Wiley can apply the noir a bit too thickly in parts. And the tempo rumbles a touch too long in the slow-blues-groove gear. But Wiley’s willowy voice, which he throws around a little more than before, along with his excellent lyrics and obvious love of instruments that serve the song, maintain the connection with the listener. Many of those instruments are played by Wiley himself. He’s joined by sharp players, such as drummer/percussionist Geoff Arsenault and producer Steve Berlin. A longtime member of Los Lobos, Berlin helmed The Tragically Hip’s Phantom Power (1998) and Faith No More’s Introduce Yourself (1987). He knows how to work with a primarily guitar-driven sound. Whoever’s story he’s scoring, Nathan Wiley has scored with this record.