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“It’s upbeat and full of life.”

That’s Willie Nile, describing his own take on his most recent release, the life-affirming “American Ride.” But Nile might as well be describing himself. For some 35 years, the Buffalo-born Nile has been casting a keen observational eye out the window on his own American ride, crafting his reports into brightly vivid songs redolent with optimism and pulsating with the indomitability of the human spirit. There is a palpable sense of joy in Nile’s songcraft, even when he’s dealing with the heaviest of subjects.

Nile got his start smack-dab in the middle of the era of major record label dominance, but in truth, he’s done his best work during the years following the collapse of that old infrastructure, when records like “Beautiful Wreck of the World” and “Streets of New York” revealed a spirit that suggested Nile was the very essence of the “indie artist” – a troubadour, a man beholden only to the road, and not to the suits who’d heretofore held the purse strings.

That road leads Nile back home again this week. He and his stellar band will play at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Tralf Music Hall (622 Main St.). Singer/songwriter Jefferson Grizzard – who performed a riveting set during the Music Is Art Festival last summer – will handle the opening duties.

– Jeff Miers