- 28 Aug 18
An old school gentleman of the road, Rateliff discusses his winning combination of "The Band and Sam & Dave Playing Together" and even throws out a few words as Gaeilge. "Maith An Fear!" says Pat Carty
Nathaniel Rateliff gives it his best “Conas atá tú?” when he comes on the phone from England – “hanging with the Tans!” as he puts it himself. He’s apparently been given the low down on our beautiful mother tongue from his sound man, who hails from Tipperary. It’s appreciated, but he’s a busy man, trying to eat dinner as we talk, so it’s best not to waste any time.
The redoubtable Mr Rateliff is currently on the road promoting Tearing At The Seams, his second studio album with his big band collective, The Night Sweats which fans of The Last Waltz or early Springsteen will find easy to love. Before that though, there were solo records like In Memory of Loss and Falling Faster Than You Can Run - what prompted the change in tack from the earlier, folkier style? “It was kind of out of discouragement”, he remembers, “I’d been a singer-songwriter playing that Americana style for ten years and I was just about ready to stop and go back to being a gardener. Soul and R&B was something I always wanted to do, I’d just finished Falling Faster and it looked like it wasn’t even going to come out, so I didn’t want to do anything with an acoustic guitar. Instead, I tried to come up with stuff that sounded like The Band and Sam & Dave playing together.”
You couldn’t ask for a better description of the man’s music, although it’s a feeling that has kind of been there all along. There are songs on Falling Faster like ‘Laborman’ that, if you put a horn section on them, wouldn’t be a million miles away from where he ended up anyway. “Actually, last summer we did a festival where we played all that old material, with the full band and the horns and we had a blast, I thought everyone would be hollering at me to play ‘SOB’ but it turned out people actually wanted to hear those songs. It was really encouraging to hear that admiration for the other stuff.”