Release Date: Mar 9, 2018
Record label: Fantasy
The story goes that Nathaniel Rateliff put together the Night Sweats as one last effort to solidify his music career before giving it up altogether. It worked, obviously: the band's self-titled debut in 2015 was a surprise hit, recasting the previously folk-leaning Rateliff as a soul shouter with a big, gruff voice and a band that cooked. Because there were no expectations, the Denver singer could do pretty much whatever he wanted, and the album reflected that: it was loose, catchy and sounded like he and the band he had recruited were having fun playing a version of the music that Rateliff used to sing to pass the time and entertain his coworkers while doing day jobs involving manual labor.
Nathaniel Rateliff has had one of those careers that we tend to only look back on, rather than witness in real time. Over the course of a just under a decade, he released a couple of mediocre solo records which earned him a reputation as an earnest, folksy balladeer, with a voice that marked out a perhaps unrealised potential. Fast forward a few years to 2015, and his record – the first recorded with backing band The Night Sweats – seemed to come out of nowhere, and recast him as ’60s soul man.
Who can blame Nathaniel Rateliff for not wanting to mess with success? After chipping away as a singer/songwriter, he decided to make himself into a 21st century answer to Van Morrison for the 2015 album where he unveiled his soul revue, the Night Sweats. He scored a hit -- "S.O.B." climbed up the rock charts and stayed there -- and the group toured hard, eventually finding the time to write and record material for a second album. Released two and years after their debut, Tearing at the Seams feels very much like a record worked out on the road.
Stax Singles, Vol 4: Rarities & The Best Of The Rest (**** Craft/Stax) is the final chapter in the esteemed series, and spanning 1960 to '75, as the title implies, it eschews the hits for flips and deeper cuts, expanding the first three volumes' remit of collecting soul sides to include gospel, country, blues, rock and pop culled from the Memphis label's imprints Ardent, Enterprise, Hip, Chalice, Gospel Truth, et al. The music is top notch throughout, with tracks by Barbara & The Browns, The Staple Singers and The Rance Allen Group setting the bar exceptionally high. The packaging is great too, the six discs housed in a box with an 80-page booklet, featuring essays from authorities Alec Palao and Rob Bowman.