Overnight success has been a long time coming for Nathaniel Rateliff. The Missouri-born performer and his hometown guitarist pal Joseph B Pope III have spent years in both solo and band guises plugging away to a dedicated following within the Denver music community. But all this changed with a new bunch of musicians, a detour to a soul sound and that one hit song to create an instant impression. Truth be told THAT song, S.O.B made a dint not an impression from the opening handclapping, gospel humming, Aretha Franklin style rant chant; “I’m gonna need someone to help me / I’m gonna need somebody’s hand / I’m gonna need someone to hold me down / I’m gonna need someone to care …”
Rateliff like a missionary man found Soul and R & B to be his thing to preach to the masses. In perfect harmony the Memphis based Stax music label, itself having experienced a rebirth with its traditional southern soul spirit, signed a deal with the Night Sweats giving Rateliff deserved billing on the legendary Stax Artist’s roll call in front of the name Redding – Otis Redding that is.
I Need Never Get Old is another hit in the wings – Rateliff’s voice builds into a resonate roar similar to Neil Diamond complete with 70’s guitar riff and killer horn section. With those emotionally driven dynamics you can’t help but start moving with the music. Very Hot August Night. Howling at Nothing is pure Stax soul – with a nonchalant swinging drum beat. The foggy distorted bass and guitar lines in Trying So Hard Not to Know takes you back to those live venues where sound waves were bouncing off low slung ceilings, however on this song a shaking tambourine is raising the roof. The mood shifts with the saloon style piano tinkling I’ve been failing and the pensive steel pedal on Wasting Time and Thank You.
The Rateliff and The Night Sweat’s debut album gives us shades of R & B – from raspy belt it out songs to ballads seeping in southern gratitude. We can only hope a nearby Blues & Roots festival has the paperwork signed for this artist to tour Australia early next year.