Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night SweatsS.O.B. is the closest mainstream music has gotten to Rehab since Amy Winehouse had her breakthrough with it nearly a decade ago. Where Rehab depicts the denials of an alcohol addict, S.O.B. speaks of someone who knows they have a problem but are unable to change. The frustration breaks through with every chorus and peaks in the bridge as Nathaniel Rateliff shouts “bugs are crawling over me.” He’s having hallucinations.

Despite the top-level differences between Rateliff and Winehouse, there are similarities. Horns carry much of both albums drenched with classic soul. On this one, there’s a vintage quality throughout with production by Richard Swift, suitable for its home on the Stax record label. Beyond that, comparisons have been made to artists like Sam Cooke and Van Morrison, the latter of whom is particularly apparent on I’ve Been Failing.

The album is all about self-reflection in the form of rustic soul soaked in vintage blues and gospel, from self-re-evaluation on the gentle Wasting Time to the barbed guitar of Trying So Hard Not To Know. The most convincing quality beyond it all is in Nathaniel’s vocals that range from soothing in Mellow Out to all-out roar in S.O.B.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats might have bands like Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers to thank for bringing folk-rock back into the mainstream in such a big way, but the authenticity of this record goes beyond that of those aforementioned acts. Where Babel or Ho Hey might bring to mind barns and hay fields, this soul of this album evokes old churches and gatherings at the local tavern on Sunday afternoon.
Four stars

1. I Need Never Get Old
2. Howling At Nothing
3. Trying So Hard Not To Know
4. I’ve Been Failing
5. S.O.B.
6. Wasting Time
7. Thank You
8. Look It Here
9. Shake
10. I’d Be Waiting
11. Mellow Out

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