Nathaniel Rateliff AND IT’S STILL ALRIGHT

Nathaniel Rateliff
And It’s Still Alright
Stax Records/Concord Music

Putting Plenty of Heartbreaking Soul Into Country Folk.

Straight from the opening acoustic guitar chords on What a Drag, you know this is very, very, very different from Nate Rateliff’s previous albums with the Night Sweats.
While there were sad ballads on those albums they sure weren’t nothing like this …….. a deceptively beautiful, thoughtful and haunting song of loss and then hope.
I think it’s fair to say ……… Stax Records ain’t ever released an album like this before! And they should be proud of themselves for doing so.
Singer-Songwriter’s always write from the heart and generally deliver deeply personal works; and that’s exactly what you get on this album, which shouldn’t have but has still managed to surprise me in every groove and stanza.
Rateliff certainly has a distinctive voice; one that still oozes S.O.U.L even in this Country-Folk format; with Expecting To Lose and Mavis both threatening to break into becoming Power Ballad; but Rateliff shows great restraint; holding back from the brink to leave the listener gasping for breath.
But the all encompassing beauty of Rateliff’s kind words and deep storytelling shine brightly in Time Stands and You Need Me; with his Folk Roots showing like a ‘Bottle Blonde’ in the third week of the month on All Or Nothing and the tragically beautiful Kissing Our Friends which has been a contender for Favourite Song Status for several days now.
Apparently these songs began poring from his pencil in 2017 as a long-term relationship unravelled just as his career began to peak; then a year later his friend and Producer of The Night Sweats albums Richard Swift died; taking Nathaniel into a ‘dark place’ from which he wrote the title track And It’s Still Alright; which is as pertinent a song as you’ll hear on the subject of losing someone close to you; and you know what …….. it will make you smile.
Two songs really stand out; the finale the dark and brooding Rush On and the one that quite rightfully takes the RMHQ Accolade of Favourite Song; the absolutely wonderful All or Nothing on which the singer sounds uncannily like Harry Nilsson!
As something of a Night Sweats ‘fan and although I was aware of the laid-back Acoustic format this album would take; but it’s still been surprise after surprise as the singer uses his magnificent voice in a manner that has no right to be succesful; and the songs themselves? Boy oh Boy; can he right something touching, eloquent and eminently touching again and again.

Released February 14th 2020

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