Nathaniel Rateliff was about to pack things in music career-wise when he decided on one more effort, collaborating with Joseph Pope III to form Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats in 2015. And the success of their debut “Nathanial Rateliff & The Night Sweats,” reinvigorated the then 36-year-old Rateliff.
“We never expected to be received in such a way, and we’re going work as hard as we can,” Rateliff told Rolling Stone in 2016.
Their 2015 self-titled debut was an unexpected critical and commercial success. Their lead single for the album, “S.O.B” reached No.1 on the Triple A, and No.3 on US Alternative, which propelled them to a “Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” television debut.
And that performance turned out to be crucial for the group.
“That had a huge impact on everything that’s happened to us over the past year. A lot of us didn’t think that Jimmy was going to get that excited, or even push the record like he did. It changed a lot for us and got people really excited,” said Rateliff of the experience.
Pope III (bass), Mark Schusterman (keyboards), Patrick Meese (drums), Luke Mossman (guitar), Wesley Watkins (trumpet), and Andy Wild (saxophone), make up The Night Sweats.
Tearing At The Seams
Their debut album was followed by an eight-song EP, “A Little Something More From Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats” along with their second full-length, “Tearing At The Seams” due out March 9 on Stax Records. Richard Swift-produced the record, along with their debut. Swift also worked as a producer with The Shins, Foxygen, and has released several albums of his own.
Thus far, the singles they have released in support of “Tearing At The Seams” have generated a fair amount of anticipation, setting a high standard for the album.
The lead single for the album, “You Worry Me” kicked off that excitement reaching No.1 on Triple A. The song has a thick-molasses type sound that did not show up in the soul, gospel folk, Soggy Bottoms, “Brother Where Art Thou” vibe on their debut.
Rateliff and the band still bring that same infectious energy in their vocal/backing vocal performance, but there is a darker element at least sonically, to the instrumentation and arrangements. The song, or more specifically the rising chorus, reminds me of Mumford And Sons’ “Wilder Mind” – in the sense that it’s what “Wilder Mind” would have sounded like if Mumford And Sons were more talented.
“Coolin Out” was a song Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats wrote as a band, which they had not done previously, and was also done in collaboration with indie-pop group Lucius. The song is done in an upbeat-gospel, soulful-folk style, complemented by a stellar backing track form Lucius (Jess Wolfe, Holly Laessig). Rateliff’s R&B-soul-Joe Cocker vocal, coupled with Wolfe and Laessig’s ’60’s era soul backing, makes the track seem somehow innovative and distinctly nostalgic.
On “Hey Mama,” Rateliff manages to sound uplifting and inspiring repeating, “You picked a bad time to listen to me,” a style the band established with 2015’s “S.O.B.”. A personal tune about Rateliff’s struggle with addiction. It also features perhaps the most Dylan-esque guitar riff since the feather-haired bard scuffled his pointy-leather high-heeled boots in 1980. Reminiscent of Dylan’s “Spanish Harlem Incident,” “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Dying),” or something from “Desire.”
Regardless of anything else, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats seem to have perfected a style of music that is instantly gratifying, soothing, uplifting. They have taken a particular genre, or a collection of genres: R&B, soul, rock, blues, folk, and captured the kind of honest expression that made them popular in the first place, avoiding the cliché that comes with nostalgia.