March 9, 2018 Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – Tearing at the Seams (Album Review)
It is often easy to get carried away in the very era one lives in. Before one can even blink, they are wrapped in the modern fashions, sounds, music, technology, fads, etc. As generations progress in age, many forget the best parts of days past, even missing the opportunity to mold into something new. In the days of electronic Dance music, overproduced ‘Rock’ records, and almost a phobia of stripping down one’s sound; Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats have come to save art’s soul.
In times of great strife and bleak outlooks, artists such a Muddy Waters, James Brown, Elvis, Howling Wolf, and the whole Motown stable of musicians raised the very hearts of countless listeners above so many tragedies. Hard not to look on one’s TV or read the news and see a world of strife and division, Rateliff and company have come to raise all those willing to listen above that. Rateliff himself has been carving through Denver, CO through the years, bringing new projects to the public, trying to find the right platform to reach audiences. As he evolved through projects such as Born in the Flood and Nathaniel Rateliff and the Wheel, he slowly started heading down a path to his final product while slowly building a collection of visionary artists to work with.
In 2013, with lifetime brother in arms Joseph Pope III (bass), Rateliff & The Night Sweats formed along with Mark Shusterman (keyboards), Patrick Meese (drums), Luke Mossman (guitar), Wesley Watkins (trumpet), and Andy Wild (saxophone); a project that has since changed their lives forever. Whether the stars were all in alignment or just an underlining need for something real, they delivered a self titled debut that took sounds from some of music’s best eras and delivered it in such manner that everyone inspired and hooked from the word go. Songs such as “S.O.B.” and “I Never Get Old” have the perfect recipe of mixing Folk, Blues, and Rock of old while adding a dash of modern approach to make a perfect introduction. As they say, however, “You have your whole life to write your first record,” the follow-up usually is where so many bands lose their audience. So, with the sophomore release, Tearing at the Seams, out Friday, March 9, 2018 through Stax, how will they fare?
With the industry so focused on the ‘single’ so much, it would seem that the art of making a solid continuous album feels to have been lost. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats however is here to show the lessons of days past are not lost. As a heavy clapping drum beat kicks through the speakers, the journey begins, not taking long to be joined by a smooth entrance of brass and keys that deliver a hook getting the soul moving with the initial track “Shoe Boot.” Coupling the build up with Rateliff’s distinct voice, the mood is set for the album, daring the listener to try and not lose themselves in the groove.
The album continues on a bright, almost Gospel sound with the track “Be There.” It is impossible to not commend the band on amazing production that while is smooth like good whiskey, its raw edges take one back to the days before Pro Tools. That bright sound carries over an almost Motown love song in “A Little Honey,” which features some of the best showing of how well every individual band member mix together to create a sound that makes every word come to life. Not all songs though are of the fast-paced, bright sounds, the record slows down a bit while taking a much more reflective feel on “Hey Mama.” The track takes much more of a Country feel to it, which serves to reinforce the vast influences that define this band.
As Tearing at the Seams courses to the track “Intro,” the fast Soul-laden beats are delivered with such precision and confidence that James Brown himself has to be looking down with a smile of approval, especially when halfway through one of the smoothest sax lines is laid out. Furthermore, one of the bright highlights of the album has to be the entrancing “Baby I Lost My Way (But I’m Going Home).” The song itself is a culmination of everything from ’60s Surfer Rock, Blues, and Gospel that is simply unheard of since the days of one Ray Charles. That in mind, the transition of emotions and melodies on this album are almost unheard of in this day and age, testifying to a remarkable road for a band fans can highly anticipate what it will bring in the future.
The year of 2018 should be officially renamed to the year of Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. They just recently kicked off their tour for Tearing at the Seams with a live show that was broadcast from one of the most revered venues, The Grand Ole Opry, an honor within itself. In all honestly, no written review can fully express the unique journey it will take the listener on. Highly recommended before attending a show, take a moment and sit down, pour a glass of fine liquor, and get lost in the melodies of Tearing at the Seams for albums like this only come but once in a lifetime. With that being said, it is with great honor that CrypticRock give it 5 out of 5 stars.