‘The Future’ Gives Real Hope For The Future Of Nathaniel Rateliff And The Night Sweats

Courtesy: Stax/Fantasy/Concord

When Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats released its album, Tearing at the Seams in 2018, it went without saying that the record (the band’s second) was very much a sophomore slump for the band.  That is because by comparison to the group’s self-titled 2015 album, it was far from what audiences and critics had hoped for.  Now more than three years after that record’s release, the collective has returned to form in its third album, The Future.  The 11-song record is aptly-titled as its musical and lyrical content collectively shows that the group is indeed looking to the future rather than the past.  One of the songs that serves so well to prove this comes right from the album’s outset in its title track.  This song will be discussed shortly.  ‘Love Me Till I’m Gone,’ which comes later in the record’s 41-minute run time, is another notable addition to The Future.  It will be examined a little later.  Much the same can be said of ‘I’m On Your Side,’ which comes even later in the album’s sequence.  It will also be examined later.  Each song noted here does its own share to make The Future an enjoyable new offering from Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats.  When they are considered alongside the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the album overall a successful new offering from the group.

Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats’ third album, The Future is a fresh new breath of air from the collective, following the mulligan that was the band’s sophomore album, Tearing at the Seams.  This latest offering from the collective shines, as noted, due to its collective musical and lyrical themes.  The album’s opener/title track does well to support the noted statements.  The song’s musical arrangement is part of the composition’s success.  Right from its own outset, Rateliff and company present a great vintage country music style work.  Rateliff’s own vocal delivery adds to the interest as it is immediately comparable to that of the one and only Bob Dylan.  Even as Rateliff hits some high notes, really pushing his limits, that comparison remains.  That duality, and the production that went into the song to add to the depth of the song’s sound and impact, makes the arrangement so engaging and entertaining in itself.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out, too.  The lyrical theme (or rather seeming theme) that accompanies the song’s musical arrangement makes for its own interest.

The lyrical theme (or seeming theme) featured in the record is so interesting because of its contemplative nature.  Right from the song’s opening, Rateliff asks, “Is the future open?/Is the future seen?” before continuing, “You’d have to pray forever/And if you don’t believe/They’ll come down on you/From the longest fall.”  This very line seems to hint at the way people react to those who disagree with their own views while worrying about the future because of the present.  That is of course just this critic’s own interpretation and should not be taken as the only interpretation.  Rateliff even seems to address those self-righteous types as he states, “When they’ve all been vanquished and they’ve all been tried/Like it’s some great penalty/And they got no follow through/They hold the weakest stance.”  He then adds, “Yeah, well they’ll come to steal and divide/All that’s good.”  This collective commentary seems to be a statement about not only those who want everyone to give in to their beliefs and way of life, but those above them and how hard they will try to divide and steal all that’s good because they want their way or no way.  Interestingly enough, from there, Rateliff seems to continue the noted commentary, this time seemingly pointing the finger at those who give in to that and just want to get even with the other side.  That is inferred as he sings, “You say you thirst for vengeance/And you crave for fire/On the roofs of innocence/You watch them rage and writhe/And it don’t bother you/You feel so brave/You’re standing in the water/You think that you’ve been saved/With your blind ignorance/In comes a crushing wave/Now see what drown men do in your watery grave.”  This really comes across even more as an indictment of those who want to force others to live life like them.  It is a sort of “look at you” statement to those people.  Again, this is all the interpretation of this critic and should not be taken as the only interpretation.  Regardless, the unique way in which Rateliff ruminates on what is clearly a social commentary makes for so much engagement and entertainment.  When that ensured interest is joined with the song’s equally enjoyable musical arrangement, the whole makes the song overall doubtless, a great addition to the album and just one example of what makes the album a success.  ‘Love Me Till I’m Gone’ is another positive way in which the album shows its strength.

‘Love Me Till I’m Gone’ stands out in part because of its musical arrangement.  The arrangement is a completely immersive work that blends elements of jazz and R&B from decades gone by.  The use of the keyboards and horns here pairs with Rateliff’s vocals, which change here with the music) for a sound that lends itself to comparison to works from Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and other similar acts.  The casual, relaxed sense that the arrangement establishes is such a wonderful starting point for the song.  It is certain to engage and entertain audiences, and is just part of what makes the song stand out.  The equally accessible lyrical theme featured in the song makes for even more entertainment.

The lyrical theme featured in this song is in fact a love song, but not the type that one might expect.  In the case of this song, the song’s subject is in fact someone who is just looking for that reassurance that we all want.  This is made clear as Rateliff sings, “Will you hold me tight when you’re close/And then/Will you love me when I’m worn out and I start to cave?”   The subject adds, “These kind of moments come in waves, you know/Some take your breath and fill your days/It’s a powerful love you want to know/Ah, as we walk hand in hand/I’m just here to say that, ya/We want back time that we never have/Hours just turn into days/To love me now like you loved me then/And will you love me even when you know that I’m wrong?”  The ask for that reassurance continues in the song’s closing lines in similar fashion.  Keeping that in mind, the theme here, again, is not just the typical love song theme.  It is a theme of someone who just wants to know that his/her loved one will be there no matter what.  Again, interestingly enough, such a theme would typically conjure thoughts of a song whose musical arrangement is much more somber and reserved.  That this song’s arrangement does not take that course just as the song’s theme is atypical in its own right, the whole gains that much more interest.  It shows even more why The Future is worth hearing.  It is just one more of the album’s most notable works, too.  ‘I’m On Your Side’ is yet another way in which the album proves its enjoyment.

The musical arrangement featured in ‘I’m On Your Side’ is another composition that is rooted in the soul and funk sounds of the 1960s and 70s.  That is clearly evidenced through the use of the horns and keyboards along the rich sounds of the drums, bass, and vocals.  The thing here is that even with the noted influence so clear, the arrangement here boasts its own unique identity that blends in some modern rock influence a la Bruce Springsteen for a whole that is so infectious from start to end of its three minute, 19 second run time.  The energy in the song’s arrangement works so well in partner with the song’s lyrical theme, which itself serves as a great companion to ‘Love Me Till I’m Gone.’  Where ‘Love Me Till I’m Gone’ finds the song’s subject needing that reassurance in what is clearly a moment of self-doubt, ‘I’m On Your Side’ is that other person essentially responding positively.

The noted statement is made clear right from the song’s title and enriched as Rateliff sings, “I’m on your side through thick and thin/We’ll cross divides and we will stand/In hope and light/But if you ain’t alright/Just remember/I’m on your side.”  He also notes in the song’s lead verse, “Did you realize?/Or you can’t remember/Well, adjust your eyes and let ‘em clear/But if you ain’t alright/Just remember/I’m on your side.”  This is that reassurance that the subject wanted, again, in the previously examined song.  This is the other person saying to the other, “clear your eyes” as he asks that person, “do you not remember I’m here and will be?”  It is a great statement, and together with the positive vibes that the song’s musical arrangement establishes, helps to show even more why the song stands out.  When the two sides are joined, they make the song in whole yet another example of what makes The Future a welcome return for Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats.  When it and the other songs examined here are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the overall presentation makes The Future a strong new offering from the group that is a nice return to form for the group.

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats’ new album, The Future, is a welcome new offering from the group that sets right what went wrong with Tearing at the Seams.  Its musical and lyrical arrangements do well to prove that as they bring the group back to form while still giving audiences something new instead of just re-hashing the content from the band’s self-titled 2015 debut.  All three of the songs examined here do well to support the noted statements.  When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the album in whole gives hope for The Future of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats.

The Future is available now through Stax/Fantasy/Concord.  More information on the album is available along with all of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats’ latest news at:

Website: https://nathanielrateliff.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nathanielrateliff

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NRateliff

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

ACL Celebrates 40 Years Is A Wonderful Celebration Of A Show And Of Music Itself

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS and its hit concert series Austin City Limits celebrated two major landmarks for the series this fall. This past October Austin City Limits celebrated forty years on the air. That landmark makes the concert series the longest-running concert series on television to date. Making the anniversary even more special is the fact that this October, the show’s original studio was added to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s tenth Rock and Roll landmark. Both of these marks are big honors for ACL and for PBS. In honor of these honors, PBS released on DVD today the brand new concert recording Austin City Limits 40 Years. There is a lot to like about this concert recording starting with the show’s all-star lineup. Featured in the concert is a who’s who of the music industry. It features legendary names such as: Willie Nelson, Buddy guy, Bonnie Raitt, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Foo Fighters, and even the original members of Double Trouble among so many others. There are even performances from up-and-coming blues/rock band Alabama Shakes. It’s a display in its own way of how many generations this series has reached over the course of its four decades on the air. Making the set even better is the concert’s set list. Emmylou Harris covers Willie Nelson’s hit ‘Crazy.’ There’s also an all-star tribute to Sam & Dave with a performance of ‘Wrap It Up.’ And just as enjoyable is the multi-song, all-star tribute to blues legend and Austin native, the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan. These are just some of the examples of what makes the show’s set list so important to the presentation in whole. Last but hardly least noteworthy regarding the recording’s success is its bonus material. Included as bonus material, is forty-five minutes of bonus performances. There is also a bonus behind-the-scenes look at the work that went in to making Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years a reality. It’s all set against a great performance of SRV’s hit song ‘Texas Flood.’ These bonuses, partnered with the show’s all-star list of performers and its equally wonderful set list, serve to help make Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years one of this year’s surprise best new live recordings of 2014. It also serves to show yet again why PBS is the last bastion of worthwhile programming on television today.

Austin City Limits has been on television for forty years this year. That is a huge landmark for PBS’ concert series. It has outlived MTV’s Unplugged Series. It has also outlived VH1’s Storytellers and CMT’s Crossroads. In the four decades since it made its debut, ACL has gone from focusing on just one or two genres of music to being one of the preeminent destinations for some of the music industry’s biggest names. Elvis Costello has been on the show. Kings of Leon appeared just last year. And even none other than Nine Inch Nails appeared this year. It just goes to show how much this show has grown since its earliest days as has its importance in the music industry. That is shown just as much in the list of performers tapped to appear on Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years. The list of performers tapped to appear on this recording is a who’s who of the music industry from past, present, and even the future. It includes the likes of Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Foo Fighters, Sheryl Crow, Guy Clarke, Jr., Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Emmylou Harris, and up-and-coming blues/rock band Alabama Shakes and so many others. With such a wide swatch of performers, that list becomes for all intents and purposes a music history lesson live on stage. It shows not only where ACL has been and where it is going but where music itself started and to where it has come today. And every act tapped to perform is an excellent example of both histories. It’s just one of plenty of reasons that audiences will enjoy this DVD.

The list of performers tapped to perform on Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years is itself plenty of reason for audiences to pick up this brand new release from PBS. That list is itself a music history lesson and a lesson on the history of ACL. The performers themselves serve as plenty of reason for any music lover to check out this DVD. The songs that they perform make the recording just as enjoyable if not more so. Audiences will love Willie Nelson’s performance of the classic song ‘On The Road Again,’ and Emmylou Harris’ cover of Willie Nelson’s ‘Crazy.’ If that’s not enough, there is a star-studded, multi-song tribute to Austin, Texas’ own Stevie Ray Vaughan. That tribute features performances from Buddy Guy, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and almost every member of the a-list cast of performers. There is also a special tribute to Sam & Dave in the performance of ‘Wrap It Up.’ That song is handled by Bonnie Raitt, Jimmie Vaughan, Gary Clark, Jr. and Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes. As if all of that wasn’t enough, the star-studded tribute to SRV is complemented with an equally gran tribute to Buddy Holly. These are just some of the performances included in the concert that audiences will enjoy in watching this recording. There are plenty of other great performances along the way that audiences will enjoy just as much. Collectively, all of those performances make for yet another wonderful reason for every music lover to see this concert.

If the who’s who list of performers tapped for this concert and their performances aren’t enough for audiences, the bonus material included on the DVD will convince audiences. PBS has included forty-five minutes of performance footage as bonus material on this DVD. That forty-five minutes includes a performance of ‘Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die’ from Willie Nelson and ‘Freight Train’ from Gary Clark, Jr. and Sheryl Crow among the bonus performances. Robert Earl Keen handles ‘I Gotta Go’ and Joe Ely covers ‘All Just To Get To You’ as part of the bonus performances, too. Partnered with that is a special behind-the-scenes look at the concert set against a performance of SRV’s hit song ‘Texas Flood’ by Buddy Guy, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Robert Randolph, and others. It’s a double whammy for audiences. Not only does it give audiences a behind-the-scenes look at the concert from pre-pro to show but it also offers audiences a bonus performance. Audiences are given another bonus performance by Bonnie Raitt and company in their rehearsal for their performance of ‘Wrap it Up.’ It’s a nice finisher to a concert recording has already more than proven itself one of this year’s best. Together with the aforementioned list of performers and set list, it pushes this recording over the top, once again proving why ACL has run so successfully for forty years and why its original studio is now part of music history thanks to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It shows once more why PBS is the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming.

So much can be said of what makes Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years a success and a total enjoyment. And so much has been said, obviously. It goes without saying that the show’s production values are just as impressive as everything else already noted here. Whether one is taking in the concert on a regular TV or one with a high-priced surround sound home theater system, every viewer will agree that all of the other positives noted here would be nothing without those top notch production values. The concert looks and sounds just as good as other performances recorded over the years. It is that proverbial cherry on top of the musical sundae that is this recording. It is that last part that makes this recording well worth the listen by music lovers of every age.

Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years is available now on DVD. It can be ordered direct online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=50214636&cp=&sr=1&kw=austin+city+limits&origkw=Austin+City+Limits&parentPage=search. More information on this and other recordings from Austin City Limits over the years is available online at:

Website: http://acltv.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/austincitylimitstv

Twitter: http://twitter.com/acltv

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS Celebrates Four Decades Of ACL With Special Anniversary Concert

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS’ Austin City Limits hit a major milestone this year.  The network’s hit music series celebrated forty-years with PBS.  In celebration, PBS is releasing a special DVD celebrating the long-running series next month.

PBS will release Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years on Tuesday, December 2nd.  Austin City Limits’ four-decade long run on PBS is especially important to both the network and to music lovers alike.  In the four decades that Austin City Limits has been on PBS, it remains the only TV series to be awarded the Medal of Arts.  Also in that time, MTV’s Unplugged and VH1’s Storytellers have gone by the wayside.  And even CMT’s on Crossroads series has failed to maintain the stability and reputation of ACL.  Throughout its now forty-years on television, ACL has seen and continues to see some of the industry’s biggest names take to the stage.  Those names include the likes of Elvis Costello, Foo Fighters, Nine Inch Nails, and so many others.  Many more names are sure to be added to that list as there appears to be no end to this landmark series.

In honor of the series’ fortieth anniversary, many of those same big names have come on board for this celebratory concert.  Bonnie Raitt joins Jimmie Vaughan, Gary Clark, Jr and Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes for a performance of the Sam & Dave classic ‘Wrap It Up’ to open the concert.  Howard returns later in the show alongside Gary Clark, Jr. for a special performance.  Willie Nelson, the red-headed stranger himself, joins Emmylou Harris for a performance of Nelson’s ‘Crazy.’  Singer/actor Kris Kristofferson and Sheryl Crow team up for a performance of Kristofferson’s ‘Me and Bobby McGee.  Foo Fighters even make an appearance to perform Roky Erickson’s ‘Two-Headed Dog.’  That performance was recorded at the original ACL television studio especially for the concert.  Actor Jeff Bridges hosts the night’s festivities.  He also performs a special rendition of ‘What A Little Bit Of Love Can Do’ from the late singer-songwriter Stephen Bruton.  Bruton was a big influence on Bridges’ Oscar-winning role in the movie ‘Crazy Heart.’  As if all of this isn’t enough, Joe Ely and fellow local legend Robert Earl Keen make an appearance.  Blues legend Buddy Guy rounds out the show with a performance of ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb.’  And finishing off the whole thing is a star-studded tribute to Buddy Holly and the one and only Stevie Ray Vaughan.  A who’s who of guitarists performs Holly’s ‘Not Fade Away’ and SRV’s ‘Texas Flood’ for the night’s biggest finish.

Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years was taped live at the ACL Live at the Moody Theater and the show’s original studio, Austin PBS affiliate KLRU’s Studio 6A.  The complete list of performers is: Alabama Shakes, Doyle Bramhall II, Jeff Bridges, Gary Clark Jr., Sheryl Crow, Double Trouble, Joe Ely, Mike Farris, Foo Fighters, Grupo Fantasma, Buddy Guy, Emmylou Harris, Robert Earl Keen, Kris Kristofferson, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Randolph, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jimmie Vaughan.

Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years will be available Tuesday, December 2nd.  It will retail for MSRP of $24.99.  It can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=50214636&cp=&sr=1&kw=austin+city+limits&origkw=Austin+City+Limits&parentPage=search.  More information on Austin City Limits is available online at

Website: http://acltv.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/austincitylimitstv

Twitter: http://twitter.com/acltv

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.