Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Nathaniel Rateliff makes you feel the thing called hurt so very deeply. The big man makes you feel sorrow like you've never known it to feel. He reminds you about what joy means, through his interpretations of those more somber feelings. They are the kinds of studies of the souls of men that will rattle you right down to your core. You listen to this man closely and you will - before long -- find yourself welling up, shaken and overwhelmed. You'll be okay with it, for he's reminding you of what a son of a bitch love can be and he makes you appreciate the hell out of it when it's not. He takes us to depths of ourselves, through his wondrous passion and a keen eye for the intricate intimacies that we often don't know how to handle. We often don't even know they're there. They move in our blood like ghosts and thieves, who may never strike or who may strike over and over again. They are unwritten and light.
He makes you feel things coming out from inside of you that you never, ever put there. You're amazed by them. You're shocked by them, but you still recognize them as your own, as coming from some extremely familiar space, of the same skin and bones. When he sings - when he opens it up and brings it from the guts, out of that dusty and dim basement of his - you feel yourself warming like an oven. You feel as if you can't breathe, or that you're not breathing and you could care less how it's getting done. When you listen to his song, "Nothing To Show For," - from his brilliant new album, "Falling Faster Than You Can Run" -- you find yourself wondering how love has been treating him lately. You tend to think that you'd rather not know the details because it might be too raw - rawer, more hurtful and sadder than you could ever imagine.
He sounds as if he's coming from the worst place a man can come from when he sings, "It's not peeling/It's a tear/It's distance and it's wear/It's getting under my skin/We're all broke down/We're all well-hid/We're all just kids/Despite our age/Look, you see this broken hand/It's just another limb/Well, not to me/You, don't listen you just talk/You leave me in the dark/I don't want to know." You feel fucked up. You feel like you've been told too much, but you're not the one who needs to be consoled. You would like to believe that he can still fix this, that it can turn out alright. You would like to believe that when he sings, "If I had to guess/It could only get so cold/You could sleep on a bench/But maybe you're just too old…/When it all starts to melt/You forget the ice and snow," that this is how it will go. The ice and the snow will become memories rather than bedfellows and that no one will need to be left in the flames.