Stripped back soul-folk
Nathaniel Rateliff gained recognition and attention through his group effort, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. Releasing two albums in 2015 and 2018, respectively, this R+B fusion group got both those albums to the Top 20 on the US charts, bringing Rateliff to the mainstream. On his own, however, Rateliff’s style veers more into a folk-like, soul-infused blues jam session. He brings about his Americana roots throughout his albums, and with this new album, And It’s Still Alright, new fans have been waiting for a new solo effort ever since Rateliff made moves with his group. And fans are sure to not be disappointed.
The album displays all the things that made Rateliff popular, mixed in with a smooth folk guitar and stripped back, reverb-y drums. Opening track “What A Drag” is a perfect example of this style of stripped-down folk. With a very calming guitar riff backed by minimal drums that very well could be programmed, his vocals invoke emotions about loneliness and banality and is a fantastic opener to a great album. Track four, “Expecting to Lose,” invokes a bluesy jam feel with, again, those stripped back vocals. The drums in this track are energetic and the whole song has a very happy vibe to it. Track five, “Tonight #2,” has a lovely string melody and the vocals are the most “country” sounding on the album. Rateliff’s vocals again croon with emotion and feel and speak on everyday topics. Closing track “Rush On” is a 6-minute opus that builds in intensity with an explosive ending. It feels like a recap of the whole album and is a perfect closer.
One thing about this album that sticks out, however, is the dragging nature of it. Most of the songs are slow, mellow folk jams and can get slightly boring with the same instrumentation and little variation in the sounds used throughout. The album can drag along and feels very slow, and the songs would work better listening to them on their own, rather than in the sphere of an entire album.
Regardless of this, And It’s Still Alright showcases Nathaniel Rateliff’s various different influences, drawing from folk, country, blues, R+B and soul. His vocal melodies are rich in sound, and the reverberation on many of the tracks here is perfect. If you are looking for a calming, soulful folk album to calm yourself down, this is the one.