And It’s Still Alright
He is a journeyman and a musical omnivore, and Nathaniel Rateliff’s third solo album and first in 7 years is a testament to both his staying power and to his impressive vocal ability. Though the majority of his fame has come via his work with The Night Sweats, Rateliff started out as a singer-songwriter, making his way through a host of collaborators prior to 2015, releasing two excellent solo studio albums in 2010 (In Memory of Loss) and 2013 (Falling Faster Than You Can Run). Taking a break from The Night Sweats to pour himself back into his solo work, And It’s Still Alright was motivated largely by Rateliff’s desire to explore the depth of emotion he was struggling with via his divorce and the death of his dear friend and frequent collaborator Richard Swift. The result is an album that is perhaps less dynamic or unpredictable than his past solo work but also much more cohesive, consistent, and above all, confident.
And It’s Still Alright is certainly a departure from the sound of his past solo albums, which were mostly sparse and built around harmony, bare percussion, acoustic guitar, and unpredictable song lengths and sonic shifts. This album benefits from all that Rateliff has learned about production since then, as well as the undoubted budget increase; his confidence in song-writing and vocal range also are frequently on show here too, no doubt both aided by his time with The Night Sweats and their incredible success. Drenched in reverb with longer and more conventional songs, frequent use of strings, and choral moments, And It’s Still Alright still manages to include much of what was appealing about Rateliff from the beginning, that being his warm vocals and willingness to engage all of his many musical influences in the creation of his music.
In the end, this is an album that feels very direct and emotionally-driven, much like a collection of handwritten letters to the people in his life who’d had significant impacts, not least the man he described as his brother, Richard Swift, whose sudden death in 2018 was caused by his long battle with alcoholism, a battle that Rateliff himself is no stranger to.
And It’s Still Alright is a solid album that will appeal to fans of Nathaniel Rateliff’s solo work and that of The Night Sweats. It is music that is unashamed of its own vulnerability, assured of the sound and vision it intends to bring to life, and above all, honest.
For those that are long-time fans of the musician, there is at least one moment of investigation that you may enjoy. Have a listen to “You Need Me” (2020) and “You Should’ve Seen the Other Guy” (2010) and see if you can spot the intriguing similarities in their choruses. Intentional or accidental? Enjoy!