In his first solo album, Nathaniel Rateliff openly processes the pain of losing a marriage and a close friend through eerie acoustic strumming paired with his gruff, raw voice. And It’s Still Alright is exactly the opposite of what Rateliff’s discography was with his work with the Night Sweats. This album is indulging, melancholic and warm; Rateliff’s voice completely isolated against pretty acoustics and desolate percussion is extremely provoking.
The tracks are heavily influenced by the beloved, depressive anthems of Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison and Harry Nilsson. “Tonight #2” is a very wholesome, warm track that shows almost Cohen-esque like vocal cascades. Rateliff sings “Tonight, we’ll pretend we’re friends,” in a dialogue with his former wife. Listening to the track, it almost feels like an invasion of privacy due to how open and vulnerable Rateliff is. The simple acoustic riff echoing in the back is simply haunting when complemented by his evoking lyrical work. Similarly, the album’s final track, “Rush On,” is just as transparent. Rateliff wails, “I hoped it would heal / Or you’d wake when it was over / I’m counting the days / Since your breath had closed your eyes.” The track features siren-like licks of a distant electric guitar and an ominous bass drum looming in the back like a steady heartbeat. Rateliff laments the death of his close friend Richard Swift, a producer that worked closely with the Colorado singer when he worked with the Night Sweats. This track is truly heartbreaking.
Frankly, the entire album is heartbreaking. Rateliff is openly grieving and suffering from the loss plaguing his life. Yet, simultaneously he is blossoming and coping through his music. His soul and heart are completely evident in this record. Throughout the record, he looks back at his loss with beautiful reflection and reminds himself that the heartache he feels is evident but ultimately, it’s still alright. Recommended If You Like: Bon Iver, Leon Bridges, Dawes, Fruit Bats, Alabama Shakes Recommended Tracks: 1 (What a Drag), 3 (All or Nothing), 4 (Expecting to Lose), 5 (Tonight #2), 6 (Mavis), 8 (Time Stands), Do Not Play: None Written by Caroline McCone on 02/26/2020