Nathaniel Rateliff is an emotive tenor vocalist and songwriter whose work runs the gamut from simple folk and Americana to roots rock & roll and vintage rhythm & blues. Rateliff was born in Missouri, the son of ardent churchgoing parents. The church was an enormous influence on his formative years but when he discovered a copy of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ album in his father’s collection his scope broadened. After leaving school at 16 he joined an evangelical organization. While in Denver, he began to question not only the rigors of religion, but the existence of God. He left the organization and began working odd jobs. For ten years he played in various bands until he formed ‘The Wheel’, the first group to gain traction. Their debut album, ‘Desire and Dissolving Men’, was released in 2007. The band broke up when he was offered a solo deal with Rounder Records who issued his debut album in 2010. Afterwards he left Rounder and moved back to Denver for his sophomore effort, ‘Falling Faster Than You Can Run’, which was released by the independent Mod y Vi label in 2013.
Rateliff had begun writing songs that required a band so he formed the Night Sweats, whose was rowdy, soulful sound was deeply influenced by vintage R&B, soul and gospel traditions, Van Morrison, and the Band. A formidable live unit with a reputation for stage-quaking shows, they were signed to Stax. Their debut album ‘Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats’ was issued by Stax in 2015, preceded by appearances at the Newport Folk Festival and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. They toured globally in support of the album.
Early writing and recording sessions for this album took place in Rodeo, New Mexico. “For the first record I demo’ed everything up and created most of the parts,” Rateliff noted in a press statement. “This time, I felt like we’ve all spent so much time on the road that we should all go off somewhere together. We should all have that experience together. I want — and I need—everybody to feel like they’re a part of this band,” Rateliff continued. “I want them to feel like they’re contributing artistically and emotionally to the experience of writing and creating this music. We’ve all had to make sacrifices to be in The Night Sweats and I want them all to know that it’s worth something.” In the studio, producer Richard Swift (The Shins, Foxygen) helped to capture that sense of team effort and togetherness.