In Memory of Loss – that grainy, evocative sentiment belongs to Nathaniel Rateliff. He does it so surprisingly well! This genre-fusion, revival of Roots, Blues, Jazz, Gospel and Soul, reminiscent of eras gone by but sharply focused on moving forward. Rateliff’s storytelling drifts into poetics and lyrical schemes comparable to Nick Drake and Tim Hardin.
He has the deceptive manner of soliloquizing in his moody, brooding drawl, making the instrumental almost take second place to the spoken word – Longing and Losing, using harmony almost as punctuation. Equally tranquil as powerful, Rateliff’s vocals carry the narrative anchored by these sparse musical dynamics – they resonate with the listener and definitely require further, more detailed listening. Needless to say, this is an album that I have put that into practice with.
Where we are privy to his most trying conflicts – You Should Have Seen the Other Guy – we are reassured, through lyrical twist or the contrary chosen key of the work, by the ultimately optimistic nature of the song. A fresh method conveying a rock-bottom, fighting spirit. The album is a cohesive blend of the upbeat and the somber, without imposing melancholy. If anything I suspect Rateliff has accidentally written a summer album.