WHO IS HE? The hirsute, big-lunged frontman of Denver soul-rockers The Night Sweats, who are still probably best know for their breakthrough hit S.O.B. and its intoxicating refrain: “Son of a bitch / Give me a drink.”
WHAT IS THIS? His first solo release in seven years — and a disc that started off as a breakup album about his failed marriage, but turned into an examination of death, aging, loss and keeping hope alive after Nathaniel Rateliff’s friend and producer Richard Swift died in 2018 from hepatitis due to acute alcoholism. That certainly puts a new, darker spin on S.O.B.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? Far more enjoyable and upbeat than you would expect, given the subject matter. Although Rateliff’s emotional state is often somewhat precarious, he offsets that angst with breezy ’60s and ’70s-style folk-pop and acoustic rock reminiscent of Donovan, Harry Nilsson, Van Morrison and Paul Simon.
WHAT ARE THE MOST REVEALING LYRICS? “They say you learn a lot out there / How to scorch and burn / Gonna have to bury your friends / Then you’ll find it gets worse.”
WHAT SHOULD IT BE TITLED? The Morning After The Mourning.
HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? While reflecting on our own emotional and personal gains and losses — but probably not while imbibing.
WHAT 10 WORDS SUM IT UP? Personal, frank, grounded, poignant, melodic, articulate, embracing, earnest, poetic, moving.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? The shuffling What A Drag; the bouncy All Or Nothing; the soaring gospel number Mavis.
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS SAY? ‘It’s better than all right. But gorgeous and heartstring-tugging as it is, I hope he can get back to his old, fun-loving self by the next album.’
HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO IT? Whenever you’re a little bummed and need someone who can share your misery — and help you get back on your feet.
IF THIS ALBUM WERE A GLASS, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Half full.
SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? It’s all right if you stream, as long as you buy a copy if you cig what you hear.