“The Future,” by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (Stax Records/Concord)
We’re not sure what the future holds, but if it sounds anything like “The Future,” we’re good.
That’s the title of the 11-track Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ glorious new vintage R&B album, bursting at the seams with fresh coolness. It has a sound grounded in the past but not mimicking it, a fresh, modern-retro vibe that makes sense once you listen.
“Gotta dig a lot of holes to get into something deep/Gotta sing a lot of soul to know how to feel it,” Rateliff sings on “Something Ain’t Right.”
“The Future” marks something of a reunion for Rateliff & The Night Sweats, who spent 2020 apart as the frontman toured behind his solo folk album, “And It’s Still Alright.” This is Rateliff’s first album with the Night Sweats since 2018’s “Tearing at the Seams.”
The Bob Dylan-esque title song leads to the funky “Survivor,” the meditative “Face Down In the Moment” and the soulful “Love Me Till I’m Gone,” which has “A Whiter Shade of Pale” vibe. Other highlights are “What If I” and the foot-stomper “Love Don’t.” Each song feels like a comfortable pair of vintage jeans, perfectly lived-in.
The Night Sweats’ horn players — Andreas Wild, Jeff Dazey, and Daniel Hardaway — aren’t added as an afterthought like many horns in bands. Here they’re integrated so beautifully, often lifting and carrying the load.
The lyrics explore wary optimism in an unforgiving world. “I’ve got the feeling that I can heal,” Rateliff sings on “Oh, I.” He and his band do exactly that on “The Future.”
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits