Nathaniel Rateliff &The Night Sweats are back with their first studio release since 2018. The album, which was preceded by singles since August, shows a changed Rateliff laced with the kind of introspection that only surviving a divorce, temporary hiatus from his band, and a pandemic could bring. “The Future” reflects heavily on the past as it takes you from a slow and soulful journey in the self-titled song to an upbeat and almost optimistic bluesy “Love Don’t.”
Though this is the first album that Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats have released together in over three years, Rateliff was clearly working through his own personal demons along the way by keeping busy. His solo album, “And It’s Still Alright,” reached #78 on Billboard’s Top 200 after debuting in February 2020 and carried his fourth of five #1 songs on the United States Adult Alternative Airplay charts since 2015. The fifth song to top the charts, “Survivor,” was the first of the heavily anticipated singles released this year. In February, the singer performed his hits “Redemption” and “A Little Honey” on Saturday Night Live alongside his band for the first time in over two years.
As you listen to the album, it becomes increasingly clear that this album was written at the height of the pandemic. As such, you can feel the melancholy and hopelessness tinged with desperation to make sense of a world gone crazy in his lyrics. While Rateliff has publicly acknowledged that this album was written when the future looked uncertain, it becomes clear that the murky future forced Rateliff to reflect on not only himself, but others in his life nearly as much.
Over his past albums, which included hits like “S.O.B.”, a reflection of his struggle with alcohol addiction, the lyrics were often self-referential. The singer-songwriter averaged 83 more mentions of himself per album than mentions of others. However, “The Future” narrows that gap. Rateliff still refers to himself throughout the album, but at an almost equal ratio to the times he refers to someone else. While it’s unclear if this person was his ex-wife, a friend, or a stranger, or all three, it is obvious that their relationship had a genuine impact on him. Regardless of the inspiration, the album is sure to take you on an emotional, toe-tapping journey.
You can stream Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ “The Future” on Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. Vinyl record fans can purchase the album beginning Nov. 15 through nathanielrateliff.com or at your favorite record store directly.