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Live From The Current Studio

Nathaniel Rateliff brings his stripped-down sound and expressive lyrics to The Current studio

Nathaniel Rateliff performs a solo set at The Current.
Nathaniel Rateliff performs a solo set at The Current.Nate Ryan | MPR
  Play Now [22:11]

by Jade

March 12, 2020

Nathaniel Rateliff - All Or Nothing (Live at The Current)
by MPR
Nathaniel Rateliff - And It's Still Alright (Live at The Current)
by MPR
Nathaniel Rateliff - Time Stands (Live at The Current)
by MPR

"I try to write some of these songs about trying to talk about being vulnerable; and allowing ourselves as people to be vulnerable to one another. I think it's important, we don't really do it enough," Nathaniel Rateliff says about the inspiration for his new album, And It's Still Alright. While in town for two nights at the State Theatre in Minneapolis, Rateliff visited The Current for a session hosted by Jade.

Jade asked Rateliff if the passing of his close friend and producer Richard Swift weighed heavily on the lyrics of the record. Swift's passing back in 2018, as well as Rateliff's divorce, color the songs not in black or grey, but in a greenish melancholy. Rateliff does mourn these losses, but he doesn't allow them to define his entire perspective. There's a certain stoic nature to his analysis of grief, an understanding that the movement of the universe doesn't fall on your shoulders.

Guitar twangs and vocal hums hang in the air to ruminate. There's a delicate cadence to every song, a stoic observation of grief that takes these emotions seriously but does not allow them to be internalized to the point of harm.

But Rateliff's newest album isn't just a departure from The Night Sweats' more carefree expressions. It's also divergent from his neo-gospel, barn-thumping roots; And It's Still Alright harks back to the insightful, '70s folk tunes of Jim Sullivan, Harry Nilsson and Townes Van Zandt. There's also notes of early-modern blues tunes and contemporary Americana.

It's clear the record has been therapeutic for Rateliff. Throughout this session, he seems more relaxed and expressive than before. There's a respectable confidence to his insights: "Sometimes writing, you don't realize what it is you're talking about. And then that has this element of being … it's just your subconscious, sometimes it feels like you're, it's like prophetic, like you're writing your life," he says after opening his set with the track "All or Nothing."

Whether or not he's setting the precedent for his future, Rateliff's ponderings carry a universal quality: a general analysis of grief that can be used to cope with the brutal hardships of life. And for that, we thank him.

     – Caleb Brennan

More Video

Songs Performed

"All or Nothing"
"And It's Still Alright"
"Time Stands"
All songs from Nathaniel Rateliff's 2020 album, And It's Still Alright, available on Stax Records.

Hosted by Jade
Produced by Derrick Stevens
Engineered by Michael DeMark and Tessa Bloch
Visuals by Nate Ryan
Article by Caleb Brennan
Web production by Luke Taylor

Nathaniel Rateliff - official site