‘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

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