Third is the stunning third album by Nathan Salsburg, one of his generation's most gifted and idiosyncratic acoustic guitarists. It's been five years since his last solo record (Hard For To Win And Can't Be Won, 2013) - but not because he hasn't been playing guitar. In the intervening years he's backed up Joan Shelley on three releases and several hundred live dates; put out a collection of guitar duets with multi-instrumentalist James Elkington and teamed up with neighbor and fellow Louisvillian Bonnie "Prince" Billy on an EP. The original pieces on Third, his first strictly solo guitar record - no singing, no guests - all display a notable increase in confidence and ease, as Salsburg has quietly, persistently established a style marked by a depth and a complexity that are utterly his own.
The second album of astonishing duets by guitarists James Elkington (who has toured and/or recorded with Jeff Tweedy, Richard Thompson, and Steve Gunn, among others) and Nathan Salsburg (an accomplished soloist deemed by NPR "one of those names we'll all associate with American folk guitar") is a sublime suite of nimble, filigreed compositions by two singular stylists. Belying its title - "ambsace" is the lowest throw of dice; snake eyes - the record thrives on a gentle empathy and generosity of spirit, sitting sneakily protean original compositions alongside gorgeous arrangements of songs by Duke Ellington and The Smiths at the same big hand-hewn table.
"Their playing and guitar tones are so complementary, so perfectly wed that I wouldn't hesitate to put the duo up there with some of the very best acoustic guitar partnerships: Stefan Grossman and John Renbourn come immediately to mind, as does the work of Richard Crandell and Bill Bartels." - Work & Worry
Nathan Salsburg’s 2011 debut was a beautiful ode to racehorses (a point of pride for any resident of Kentucky). Comprised of seven acoustic guitar instrumentals and one vocal track, Affirmed caused Popmatters to declare the record “one that others like it will soon be measured against.” His second go-round is a grander effort. Although still primarily composed of acoustic guitar, the songs sound bigger. They bounce along, weaving through unexpected twists and turns, with the occasional piano melody or fiddle line.
Louisville, Kentucky's Nathan Salsburg is a folklorist, producer, and presenter of vernacular music for East Village Radio, the Drag City imprint Twos & Fews, and the Alan Lomax Archive, among other outlets. With his first solo record as a performer — entitled Affirmed, after the 1978 winner of horse racing's Triple Crown — he enters a wholly new interaction with the corpus of American (and British) musical folklore. The album, seven original instrumentals and one trad arrangement, is a startlingly diverse synthesis of guitar traditions — from Gary Davis to Sam McGee; Peter Lang to Nic Jones — refracted through a compositional sensibility long on melodic adventurousness and short on repetition and drone, those shibboleths of the American Primitives. Affirmed is a remarkably confident, emotional debut by one of the most original and gifted young guitarists playing today.