What does it sound like?:
I have been a bit obsessed with the latest album by Nathaniel Rateliff, recorded sans Nightsweats.
I am still trying to figure this guy out. I first encountered him live with the Nightsweats and what a great way to start, although harking back to that night he didn’t seem like a very happy chap. Appropriately then, the music of this period harks back to the grumpiest man in show business George Ivan Morrison r’nb soul revue period of It’s Too Late To Stop Now. There are plenty more comparisons with the Man too. Short, stocky, chubby and, how shall I put it, not the most handsome of looks and a magnificent voice capable of booming out or fragile sensitivity.Thatrianed voice was not in evidence with the Nightsweats but is all over the folkiness of some of his back catalogue. I say “some” because this is a man with 2 very contrasting styles. In interviews Rateliff says he is both the folky and the bar room revue frontman even to the extent of writing softer songs for solo performance while on tour with the Nightsweats.
With the Nightsweats is where he cracked it into the big time with SOB being a hit,supporting the Stones and I even heard the wordless humm/riff of SOB used in a television advertisement down here. So success, plenty of money, all going swimmingly.
A divorce was followed by the death of Richard Swift, a musician in his own right and producer of the Nightsweats records. They were soul mates it seems. Fucked up by Christian fundamentalism, brought up listening to and playing Christian music before discovering other stuff and both heavy drinkers , problem drinkers in fact. Swift drank himself to death and that is sure to have rattled NR …”there but for the grace of God go I” sort of stuff.So what to do? If music is to be the outlet then it’s not exactly soul revue music. Some heavy blues, maybe but he is not really a bluesman. A Rollling Stone interview describes how they went into Swifts stu,dio with a stripped down format and approached the whole thing, well delicately,given the fragility of NR and the themes.
So what do we get? It’s a downbeat, introspective,sad sort of record. That is fine by me as i’m a glass half empty kinda guy. The first few tracks could easily fit into a Nightsweats set and others his folky period. But, his voice is so much better and recorded so much better on this record than those folk records. The lower register is used more often aqnd the timbre of his vice really projects. In fact this is an excellent sounding record. The story goes that Swift exhorted him to record a Nilsson type record.And certainly, you can hear in there but, annoyingly I kept hearing all these different artists : Spector, Simon and Garfunkel,Nick Lowe, the Beatles, Bon Iver, Band of Horses,Van and Nick Cave esp Skeleton Tree.
There is a lot of richness to this record: strings/synths, layers of backing vocals(at times) and listening to Swift’s records this seems to be part of his thing. The lyrics have got me interested. Not often you hear Sartre referred to in song.
Given the circumstances of this records genesis and an immediate past of high octane soul revue global touring, it is a remarkable achievement.moment and
What does it all *mean*?
Nathaniel Rateliff wears a musical coat of many colours. He is one to follow.
Goes well with…
Listening – properly.
Might suit people who like…