Top positive review
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Music For Big Skies and Open Hearts
on 11 September 2010
Nathaniel Rateliff is a singer/songwriter who deserves the listening
world's attention for his debut album 'In Memory Of Loss'.
Now I'm going to slow down for a moment. Pretty much anything
I might try to write in the next few paragraphs is not going to do
justice to a recording which has knocked me off my paws!
This is better than good, This is better than very good. I'd go as far
as saying that this is truly great music. It swoops straight down from
the air above and around you and connects directly with the heart.
Mr Rateliff hasn't got the most extraordinary voice in the world but
what he does with it wrings the last drop of feeling from each one
of the fourteen magnificent songs in this collection. Its a dark brown
(perhaps nearer to burnt sienna) instrument whose conversational
style brings a stirring authenticity to every word and every note.
Listen to 'Oil and Vinegar', before you delve deeper, for a poignant
taste of the subtle majesty of his craft. The hesitant lilting melody
and stripped-down arrangement reaches deep into an intensely
personal emotional world and quietly connects with something
far bigger and relevant to anyone with a lonely heart.
From bruised interiority to universality in a breath and a half.
There are more joys here than any one of us has a right to deserve.
Taking a few steps back, opening track 'Once In A Great While', with
its tinkling piano, haunting harmonica, violin, heavenly harmonies and
faltering vocal delivery, demonstrates compositional skill and
musical intelligence of the very highest order. When Mr Rateliff sings
of starlight we stare up into the night sky with him and feel the
weight and beauty of the galaxy bearing down upon us like a
warm and sparkling celestial counterpane. (His falsetto is a joy!)
'Longing and Losing' alternates between a chilly melancholy verse of almost
suffocating intensity and a more hopeful but still restrained gospel-like
chorus which offers just a little relief from the song's desolate core.
Lasting less than two minutes 'When You're Here' comes and goes so
quietly that it hardly stirs the the air around it. The kind of concentrated
miniature which only a master of their craft could even begin to imagine.
'Happy Just To Be' concludes the album on a more optimistic note.
It is a stunning song, whose timeless melody is more than a little
redolent of some of Lennon and McCartney's finest compositions.
This is music for which we need to make space in the soundtrack to our lives.