Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats New Album Is a 'Full-Bodied Evolution' 

click to enlarge BRANTLEY GUTIERREZ
  • Brantley Gutierrez
“S.O.B,” a boot-stomping ode to alcohol, became the popular single from Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats’ eponymous 2015 debut. Fans, who can catch the band at Outlaw Field on Thursday, July 25, might expect a similar standout track on the band’s latest release, Tearing at the Seams, but they’d be wrong. That’s not a bad thing: There is no standout because the whole album is consistently solid—and that shows how far the band has come in three years ago.

On Tearing at the Seams, Rateliff tightened up his songwriting and created a stronger throwback aesthetic that pays homage to artists like Otis Redding for a successful 1960s-era soul revival. One thing that sets this album apart from Rateliff’s last is how much more dynamic and complex his seven-piece backing band seems. While Rateliff’s brooding, gravelly vocals vibrate in your chest, the Night Sweats produce a swirl of sound that packs emotional punch. It’s like watching a game of tennis: Your attention volleys between vocals and guitar riffs, vocals and horn frenzy, vocals and snare drum heartbeat.

Still, even with the band’s full-bodied evolution, the highlight of any music featuring Rateliff is Rateliff himself. The raw force with which he can bellow is mind boggling. But even though he shines on Tearing at the Seams, the sheer power of his lungs is shackled on any digital recreation. His material really comes alive on stage. But until you have the opportunity to see him live, crank up the stereo and let it rip.

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