Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Nathan Salsburg, Max Porter
Three Feral Pieces (ep)
(Independent / Bandcamp)
Max Porter’s books are getting shorter – each release is smaller than the one previous, a master of opaque prose-poetry masquerading in novel-form. Now, how very novel, he turns his hand to songwriting, the British essayist, poet and writer served up the lyrics for this threeway of an EP – just three songs in total, but three star turns, three amazing artists at the shared helm. Porter’s words were turned into fleshed out songs by virtuoso acoustic guitarist Nathan Salsburg. He plays them and Will Oldham – still best known as Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy did the singing. Salsburg’s partner in life and music Joan Shelley contributes some Wurlitzer (her own work is sublime, worth hearing if you haven’t already). Salsburg is a brilliant musician, he drives the guitar behind Shelley on her albums and also makes his own. His work across the two solo careers is brilliant. And same goes here of course.
I’m assuming you already know Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – but that’s the brilliance of this EP, if you’re reading because you Googled Max Porter you’re about to find two great new musicians to listen to (three with Joan Shelley being a bonus). If you’re an Oldham fan already you might find a new favourite author as well as a new favourite guitarist. And if you’re hip to the guitar stylings of Salsburg (adept on electric too, of course) you’re also leaving with new names to further research.
Opening, Orbit Song, is like acoustic space-rock, a folk-music round that opens up wider. Unlearning Chant is full folk – almost like when Richard Thompson reaches all the way back. And then the closer is Here Song, perhaps the very strongest of the material here – and the most similar to past Bonnie ‘Prince’ tunes; or the best feature for his voice and playing here. But there are no duds. These three intriguing new songs hint at a larger project. My fingers are certainly crossed.
You can support Off The Tracks via PressPatron