Hiatt, Jackson, Milsap, Others Made 2021 Another Great Year For Country/Bluegrass/Americana/Folk Fans

Courtesy: New West Records

Country music (for those who want to call it such nowadays) is among the mot popular of genres across the musical universe.  From radio to television, it seems like it is inescapable.  Just look at how many so-called country musicians get onto all of the karaoke contests across all of the TV networks.  Look at all of the pomp and circumstance around all of the country music awards shows on television.  While country music gets so much attention, sadly its brethren (of sorts) in the realms of bluegrass, Americana and folk get far less attention and credit from the mainstream.  This is the case despite the reality that all of the genres are so tightly interwoven.  That is why each year, Phil’s Picks has put them all together into one year-end list honoring the best of all four of those genres, which are all really part of one bigger family of music. 

This year has seen plenty of notable releases from across those genres, too.  Case in point is Delta Rae’s latest album, The Dark.  This group, originally from Durham, North Carolina, has walked that blurred line of country and Americana so well over the years and continues to do so to this day, and its new record proves that so well.  Bela Fleck’s latest album, My Bluegrass Heart, is unquestionably among the best of the year’s new bluegrass albums, on another hand.  Ronnie Milsap also returned with a great new, pure country music record in the form of A Better Word For Love, showing that thankfully, real country music is not dead yet.  Even Alan Jackson – another pure country artist – thankfully released new material this year that is noteworthy in the form of Where Have You Gone.  The record is another nice reminder that there is still hope for real country in a sea that is so awash in pop music that masquerades as country.  All of these records and more are part of Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New Country/Bluegrass/Americana/Folk Albums list.

As with each list done annually, it consists of the year’s Top 10 New titles, plus five additional honorable mention titles.  That brings the total to 15, yes, but the title remains, Top 10.  Those honorable mention titles just deserve their own special recognition.

Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New Country/Bluegrass/Folk/Americana Albums list.

PHIL’S PICKS 2021 TOP 10 NEW COUNTRY/BLUEGRASS/FOLK/AMERICANA ALBUMS

  1. John Hiatt with the Jerry Douglas Band – Leftover Feelings
  2. Delta Rae – The Dark
  3. David Crosby – For Free
  4. Bela Fleck – By Bluegrass Heart
  5. Ronnie Milsap – A Better Word for Love
  6. Stoney Creek Bluegrass Band – A Miner’s Life
  7. Alan Jackson – Where Have You Gone
  8. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – The Future
  9. Langhorne Slim – Strawberry Mansion
  10. Blackberry Smoke – You Hear Georgia
  11. Valerie June — The Moon and the StarsPrescriptions For Dreamers
  12. Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Raise The Roof
  13. The Felice Brothers – From Dreams to Dust
  14. Son Volt – Electro Melodier
  15. Rick Faris – The Next Mountain

That’s all for this year’s list of top new Country/Bluegrass/Americana/Folk records.  It is still not the end of this year’s top new music lists, though.  Still on tap are lists for the year’s top new rock and hard rock/metal albums, new live CDs, and the year’s top new albums overall.  That is all on the way, so stay tuned!

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‘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.  

‘Tearing At The Seams’ Is A Positive Sign For Rateliff & Co.’s Future

Courtesy: Stax Records

Three years ago when Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats released its self-titled debut album, that opening effort – released via Stax/Concord – from the Denver-based outfit was received to rather positive reaction.  It reached the top spot on Billboard’s folk charts and peaked at number four on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart. Critics likened the group’s sound to legends the likes of Otis Redding, Van Morrison and others while having plenty of positives to write of the album.  It wasn’t the band’s full-on proverbial A-game.  Even this critic will agree to that, but in the same breath, it was still a strong first effort from the group.  That means expectations were high for the group’s sophomore album.  Enter that album, Tearing at the Seams.  Released early just this past March, Tearing at the Seams lives up to those expectations.  It takes the positives of the group’s debut and builds on them even more to create the end result presented here.  That is evident in part through the songs’ arrangements and the album’s production, which will be discussed shortly.  The songs’ lyrical themes do just as much to make that evident.  They will be discussed a little bit later.  The album’s sequencing also serves to make that evident.  Each element is obviously important in its own right to the whole of this record.  All things considered, they make Tearing at the Seams a solid follow-up to Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats that shows even more promise for this group’s future.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ sophomore album Tearing at the Seams is an impressive new effort that is anything but a sophomore slump.  Released March 9 via Stax Records, this 12-song, 47-minute album shows notable growth from the band’s self-titled debut in so many ways, not the least of which is its collective arrangements and production thereof.  The arrangements presented here are works that take listeners back in time once again like opening a musical time capsule left long untouched.  What’s more, they don’t stick to just one influence in their presentation.  Right from the album’s outset, listeners are treated to an arrangement in ‘Shoe Boot’ that are reminiscent of so many great classic soul tunes.  That is thanks to the use of the horns, keyboards and percussion.  They keyboards, guitar and percussion at the center of ‘A Little Honey’ instantly conjures thoughts of Elton John’s classic ‘Benny & The Jets.’  That is meant in the most complimentary fashion possible.  The Otis Redding comparison is there again, too late in the album’s run in ‘Still Out There Running.’  One could even liken the arrangement at the center of ‘Intro’ to great works from James Brown and other similar acts.  At this point, it should be clear how this album’s collective arrangements make evident how this album builds on its predecessor and impresses even more than that record.  In the same vein, the production of the album’s songs does so much to help generate that sound of a musical time capsule being opened for the first time in decades.

The production work behind this album is so notable because of its role in the album’s general effect.  Producer Richard Swift (The Shins, Foxygen) – who also worked with the band on its 2015 self-titled debut – is to be applauded for his work behind the glass once again.  Thanks to his efforts, and those of the band, the arrangements get a sound that is just like something right out of the 1960s and ‘70s.  That is evident in the static/fuzz style touch on so many of the arrangements.  Even in the album’s more rock-oriented arrangements, such as that of ‘A Little Honey,’ ‘Hey Mama’ and the album’s lead single, ‘You Worry Me,’ there’s still a certain sound and feel that makes such works sound like they were lifted from days long gone.  It’s a nice touch to the album’s general effect, and ensures even more listeners’ engagement from start to end.  It’s just one more element that shows how much this album has built on its predecessor, and in turn made it that much more enjoyable than that album.  The songs’ lyrical themes are important to note in their own right, too.

The lyrical themes presented throughout TATS show growth from the band this time out just as much as the album’s arrangements and production because of the topics that are presented and the fashion in which they are presented.  Obviously the standard theme of romantic relationships is there and tackled in various different lyrical fashions.  It is not the only theme presented here, though.  ‘Hey Mama’ seems to delve into personal experiences from one of the band members as it notes, “Hey mama/Why it’s me/Say you better wait, child/Said you’ve been a long time running/Saving a long time money/Hey mama/Answer me/baby boy, you better sit down/Can’t listen when the sun’s out/My only son, this’ll be so hard to hear.”  From here, the song’s subject – seeming to be a parent talking to a child – seems to be telling the other that there is a lot more to learn in life and a lot more to experience than already has been.  This is inferred as the primary subject sings, “You ain’t gone far enough to say/At least I tried/You ain’t worked hard enough to say/Well I’ve done mine/You ain’t run far enough to say/My legs have failed.”  This is a strong statement, especially considering the song’s main subject before launching into this lecture, “She said son, let me reason with you/You think you carry such a weight/I know I never beat you, boy/Better start acting like this here’s a race.”  Simply put, this song comes across lyrically as a parent trying to talk some sense into a child.  It’s a nice change of pace from the more overly familiar material presented here.

The lyrical theme of the album’s title track is another one that seems to break from that standard mold of personal relationships.  What’s interesting here is the manner in which Rateliff has laid out the song, lyrically speaking.  It obviously is not about a romantic relationship.  At the same time, one could argue it comes across as a social commentary of sorts.  This is the case as Rateliff sings, “Wait/Is this a game or am I walking into a snare/Now these lies will spread until we are choking on the innocent/They have half of us tied and half of us in chains/We’re all covering our eyes/And covering our mouths just the same.”  He even notes in the song’s lead verse, “There’s a liar/A liar on the stage with a young child’s eyes/And it happens all wrong/And only half of it’s seen from here.”  He asks in the song’s chorus, “Where’s all the time gone/In separate ways it runs long/A hundred miles built upon us/It’s tearing at the seams of all that’s been/They’re gonna have to drag us away.”  One could argue the mention of the “liar…with a young child’s eyes” could easily be likened a mention of America’s current top politician.  The note of something “tearing at the seams of all that’s been” and “half of us” being “tied and half of us in chains” could just as easily be considered a social commentary of sorts.  This is, of course, only this critic’s take on the song.  It could be entirely incorrect.  Hopefully it is close to being correct.  Either way, the execution of the song’s lyrics itself is certain to have plenty of people talking.  Keeping this in mind, it is just one more way in which the song’s lyrical themes show this album’s growth from the band’s debut.  When it – and the other noted songs – are considered along with the rest of the album’s songs, they show even more how much this album shows the band’s continued growth.  It still is not the last way in which this album shows the band’s growth.  The album’s sequencing also serves to exhibit that growth.

From start to finish, TATS’ sequencing exhibits growth from the band because of its ability to keep listeners engaged and entertained.  The album’s first trio of songs is a group of solid, mid-tempo soulful opuses that vary little in their musical energies.  Even as the album progresses into ‘Say It Louder’ and slows, that pull back is minute at best, ensuring just as much, listeners’ engagement and entertainment.  It isn’t until the album nears its midway point in ‘Hey Mama’ that it really noticeably slows.  That reserved energy couples quite well with its lyrical content, too, ensuring even more that maintained engagement.  Listeners get one more reserved arrangement in ‘Babe I Know’ at the album’s midway point before things finally start to pick back up.  What’s really interesting in this arrangement is that to a point, it easily lends itself to comparisons to works from Bob Dylan thanks to the vocal delivery.  Musically, it sounds like a piece from the late 1950s/early 1960s, which is another change of pace for the band here, and a welcome one at that.  The album’s energy gradually grows again over the course of its next four songs before starting to pull back again to finish off in its last two compositions.  The bigger picture here is that of a record that rises and falls in all of the right places, musically.  That shows great time and thought was put into the album’s sequencing.  That time and thought paid off just as much as the work put into the songs and their arrangements, and of course their lyrical themes.  Keeping that in mind, all three elements show in their own way how much this record has built on the success of the group’s debut to make this one its own success.  All things considered, they make Tearing at the Scenes yet more promise for the future of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats.

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats’ sophomore album Tearing at the Scenes, is another successful offering from the Denver-based group.  That is because over the course of its 12-song, 47-minute run, it shows in so many ways that the band has taken the success of its self-titled debut and built on it so much in this presentation.  This is evident immediately through the album’s songs and their production.  Collectively, these two elements make this album sound like a musical time capsule that has miraculously been delivered to the present from one of music’s greatest eras without ever having been touched.  The lyrical themes presented throughout the record show growth, too, as the band is once again not afraid to stretch its creative wings beyond the standard songs of love gained and lost.  The time and though put into the album’s sequencing shows plenty of growth, too.  That’s because from start to end, the album ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment without worry of listeners skipping any tracks.  Keeping all of this in mind, it is clear that Rateliff and company have grown a lot since releasing the group’s debut three years ago.  The result of that growth is a record that, once again, shows plenty of promise for the band’s future.  Tearing at the Seams is available now in stores and online.  More information on Tearing at the Seams is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

Website: http://www.nathanielrateliff.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/NRateliff

 

 

 

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Nathaniel Rateliff And The Nightsweats Surprise In A Big Way With Their Debut LP

Courtesy:  Stax Records

Courtesy: Stax Records

The self-titled debut record from Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats is one of the most intriguing albums to be released so far this year. The Denver-based band’s eleven-song set mixes classic soul and R&B sounds with modern lyrics to make an album that will grow on audiences increasingly with each listen. And with each respective listen, audiences will increasingly agree that this album is in its own way one of the best new albums of 2015. One song that proves that argument is the album’s lead single ‘S.O.B.’ This infectious, up-tempo piece was a perfect choice for a first impression for the band and if the band lives on past its debut album, will most certainly go on to be a fan favorite years down the road. That is the case thanks to both its musical and lyrical content. The album’s opener ‘I Need Never Get Old’ is just as enjoyable of an example of how much this album has to offer listeners. It does so in exactly the same way as the album’s lead single, too. The same can be said of ‘Look It Here.’ The song’s steady 4/4 tempo and its pleading lyrics stand out against so many songs of lost love that one can’t help but note its enjoyment. It’s just one more example of what makes the self-titled debut LP from Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats a solid start for the band. That is not to discount the album’s other songs by any means. Any one of the songs included in this record could be used as examples in their own right. It just so happened that these three are the ones that this critic found served as the album’s best trio of representative tracks. Collectively speaking, all eleven songs (S.O.B. is actually included both in a “clean” version and a regular version making for twelve tracks but eleven songs) come together to complete an album that is one of the year’s best new overall albums.

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats’ self-titled debut album is one of the year’s best new overall albums and one of its most intriguing to be released so far. That is thanks to the mix of soul and r&B influences that flow throughout the record’s eleven songs. Given the Denver-based band is not the first to exhibit such influences in its music. But there is something about the combined talents of the band’s members–Nathaniel Rateliff, Joseph Pope III, Patrick Mese, Luke Mossman, Mark Shusterman, Wesley Watkins, and Andy Wild–and those of the album’s production that make this record feel like it was sent through time direct from music’s golden era. That is made clear in the album’s lead single, ‘S.O.B.’ The infectious, up-tempo pieces instantly conjures thoughts of Little Willie John, The Temptations, and so many others from that era right from the song’s outset. The steady humming and clapping will have listeners do the same along with Rateliffe and company while happily tapping their feet in time, too. Rateliff’s gravelly vocal style makes the song even more enjoyable as he sings, “I’m gonna need someone to help me/I’m gonna need somebody’s hand/I’m gonna need someone to hold me down/I’m gonna need someone to care/I’m gonna writhe and shake my body/I’ll start pulling out my hair/I’m going to cover myself with the ashes of you and nobody’s gonna give a damn.” When one really takes the time to examine this verse (and the song’s second verse) the song really takes on a whole new identity. That is especially considering the driving energy exuded in the song’s verses and even more frantic energy released in the chorus. The combination of that varied energy and the song’s lyrical content leads one to interpret this song less as just an upbeat, radio ready single but something much deeper. Rather, the combination of said elements presents the song as one that presents a subject at the point of revelation, realizing that he (or she) has a problem. It is inferred that said problem is addiction via the song’s chorus in which Rateliff sings “Son of a b****/Give me a drink/Won’t more night/This can’t be me/Son of a b****/If I can’t get clean/I’m gonna drink my life away.” If this is indeed the case–that the song is centered on a person that is battling some personal demons–then the musical content set against such lyrics is an original approach to such a topic. One can almost see this person on the verge of going through withdrawal as he or she sings the noted lyrics. Of course this is all just the interpretation of this critic. Other listeners could easily make their own conclusions in hearing it for themselves. Speaking of which, audiences can hear it for themselves online now via the band’s official website http://www.nathanielrateliff.com. Regardless of the song’s true meaning it can be said that its ability to catch listeners’ ears, hold them from start to finish, and generate so much discussion around its mix of musical and lyrical content shows exactly why it is such a solid first taste of this record and an equally solid example of why the record in whole is one of the year’s best new albums overall.

‘S.O.B.’ shows via its combination of musical and lyrical content why it is such a solid example of how much Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats’ debut LP has to offer audiences. It is just one example, too. The album’s opener ‘I Need Never Get Old’ is another clear example of what the band’s new album has to offer. That is because even with its equally clear old school soul and r&B influences, it still stands out both musically and lyrically from ‘S.O.B.’ and the rest of the album’s remaining tracks. The use of the horns and drums set against the song’s guitar line harken back to legends such as The Temptations, Ray Charles, and The Four Tops just to name a few. Just as impressive is the fact that Rateliff shows he isn’t just a one trick pony in regards to his vocal style. His delivery here is much smoother yet still has just as much strength as is exhibited in ‘S.O.B.’ All things considered here, the musical content presented in this song shows even more the breadth of the band members’ collective talents and in turn shows even more just how much the band (and the album in whole) has to offer audiences. It’s just one part of the song that makes it so impressive, too. The song’s lyrical content must not be ignored. In regards to its lyrical content, the song comes across as something of an introspective piece that looks back in an almost celebratory fashion of a one-time love. That can be argued as Rateliff sings in the song’s lead verse, “Can we be there/Oh, just think of the time/Thought of love so strange/Said you never knew/While I try my best/To cover our eyes/It’s a common way to blame and hide the truth.” The song’s second verse serves that argument even more as he sings, “Taking our time/ah/Just standing in the rain/Meaning what you said/ah/And mean it to me/All of these lies/oh/And never again/Come on say it now/It’s a game.” It’s as if Rateliff (or his subject) is looking back on a past relationship and rather than being sad about what was, the subject opted to look back with a more positive outlook. That is driven home as he sings in the song’s verse, “I know that some will say it matters but little, babe/But come on and mean it to me/I need it so bad/I needed to try/I need to fail/I needed your love/I’m burning away/I need never get old.” It could be the wrong take but it seems almost like Rateliff’s subject is telling the other person that she(?) kept him young and how much she both meant and means to him. Yet again, this could be wholly off the mark. Though, it can be hoped that it is at least somewhere in the ballpark. If it is at least close, then it can be said that it is a rarely taken approach to such a subject. And in turn such approach makes the song all the more enjoyable and that much more of an example as to what Rateliff and company have to offer listeners on their new album. It is not the last example of how much this record has to offer audiences, either. ‘Look It Here,’ which comes late in the album’s sequence is one more strong example of how much this record has to offer audiences.

Both ‘S.O.B.’ and ‘I Need Never Get Old’ are clear examples of how much Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats have to offer audiences on their debut full-length studio recording. While both songs are clear, solid examples of how much it has to offer, there is still at least one more example that can be cited. That example comes late in the album’s sequence in the form of ‘Look It Here.’ This song boasts just as much classic soul and r&b influence as any of the album’s other songs including those previously noted here. What’s really interesting though, is that even with its old school influences, it also boasts a more modern style sound throughout its verses while that old school influence is more evident in the song’s chorus. The song’s steady 4/4 tempo and its pleading lyrics in which Rateliff’s subject sings, “Look it here baby I’m coming out/On my knees begging please/Look it here baby I’m calling out/Crying now hear me, hear me plead” is completely unlike other songs today of its kind, lyrically speaking. It isn’t one of those run-of-the-mill, oh-woe-is-me songs about lost love. Rather the band’s approach here brings about thoughts of James Brown. That is made even more clear as Rateliff sings in the song’s main verse, “I got a love so hard I can’t stand it/And with a heart so weak and abandoned/You’ll have to bury this man/And if that’s what it takes for a love that must be proved/Look it here baby I’m coming out/On my knees beggin’ please yea/Look it here baby there’s no one else/Come on now hear me out.” It would have been so easy for Rateliff and his band mates to take that easy route and make a standard song about lost love. Being that they didn’t, it makes this song stand out proudly as yet another example of what makes the band’s self-titled debut such a strong first effort. Audiences can hear the song for themselves online now via the band’s official website along with ‘S.O.B.’ at http://www.nathanielrateliff.com.

‘S.O.B., ‘I Need Never Get Old,’ and ‘Look It Here’ are all clear and solid examples of how much Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats’ self-titled debut record has to offer audiences. They are not the only songs included in the record that could be chosen as representatives for the record, either. Any one (or more) of the tracks included in this record could just as easily be used to exemplify just how enjoyable this collection of songs is from start to finish. That being the case, it can be said of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats that this album is one of the year’s most intriguing albums released so far this year as well as one of the year’s best new albums overall. It is available now in stores and online. Rateliff and company are currently touring in support of their new album and have a pair of dates scheduled in North Carolina on Tuesday and Wednesday November 10th and 11th in Carrboro and Asheville respectively. More information on the band’s debut album is available online now along with its current tour schedule and all of its latest news at:

Website: http://www.nathanielrateliff.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/NRateliff

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