After releasing a pair of fine albums for Arista, Willie Nile signed a deal with Geffen Records in 1982, but a dispute with the label put Nile's recording career in limbo, and he ended up not making an album until he struck a deal with Columbia and released Places I Have Never Been in 1991. While in many respects Nile's debut was the purest expression of his music, Places I Have Never Been is where he really nailed the elements of record making; unlike the lean, stark textures of Willie Nile or the overcooked bombast of Golden Down, Places I Have Never Been boasts a sound and an approach that really flatter Nile's songs, and it's certainly his most eclectic and musically adventurous major-label set. T-Bone Wolk and Stewart Lerman produced the album with Nile, and though there's a bit more polish on these tracks than they really need, the team also matched up Nile with some stellar studio players (as well as some Grade-A guest stars, among them Roger McGuinn and Richard Thompson), and they fill out Nile's arrangements with a lot more finesse than on his previous sets. Nile also delivered a set of terrific songs for this album, and he rarely sounded as joyous as on the title cut and "That's Enough for Me," as edgy and expressive as on "Café Memphis" and "Children of Paradise," and as passionate as on "Heaven Help the Lonely," which sounds like the hit single Nile deserved but never got. Nile's luck with Columbia proved to be no better than he had with Arista, and his next release would be financed on his own dime and released by his own label, but that doesn't change the fact that Places I Have Never Been is a solid and beautifully crafted record from a gifted songwriter who also knows how to rock on out, and shows both these talents to his advantage on this disc.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming