Best Albums 2015: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Mon, 28 Dec 2015 08:06:36
Nathaniel Rateliff Videos
Back when Nathaniel Rateliff was still plunking out the plaintive acoustic folk ballads that helped establish his career, I wrote that listeners should "think of him as the blue-collar cousin of Iron and Wine's Sam Beam." The former truck driver, I reasoned, plied similarly "tender yet haunting songs [with a familiar] intimacy" thanks to producer Brian Deck, who worked with both.
Yet there was something about Rateliff's everyman persona I sensed remained dormant, like a wild animal long accustomed to the bars of a cage. The difference between Rateliff and Beam, I ventured, was while "Beam, a former college professor, can sing you a soothing lullaby, it's Rateliff you want in your corner when the shit goes down."
When I heard the steamy, gospel of drink anthem "S.O.B." earlier this year, I knew that animal had been set free. With a new sound and band, the Night Sweats, Rateliff has had a breakthrough year, being the latest act to be signed to Stax (home to the likes of Otis Redding, who, along with Sam Cooke, provide Rateliff with much inspiration), a partnering that produced this self-titled debut in short order, as well as a late night debut on Jimmy Fallon that helped propel the album's popularity.
The album, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, a gritty, greasy, horn-addled, burning collection of blue eyed soul is not only a highly accredited soul album (it's always good to receive the Stax seal of approval), it's also a triumph of reinvention, inner confidence, and the opportunity that results when you open yourself up to something new.
Watch "S.O.B." from Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats:
—The ARTISTdirect Staff
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