Nathaniel Rateliff was once a truck driver, but from the sound of this album you would think he had been releasing music for years. His debut In Memory of Loss is an incredibly mature account of loss with incredible warmth and a beautiful quietness. Robert Plant and Marcus Mumford have praised him and this album is slowly and deservedly catching more and more attention. His songs are country-folk but he separated himself from the Bon Iver and Iron and Wine comparisons by his bluesy voice. One startling thing about this album is the mixture between loud and quiet. Silence is used to a beautiful effect and the gentleness of Rateliff's voice in places, often used to a Bonnie Prince Billy effect, is perfectly coupled with the power and harmonies on songs like 'Shroud' and 'Lamb on the Stone'.

An impressive 16-tracks long, the album starts simply with 'Once in a Great While', the next track 'Early Spring Till' continues the quietness until the epic 'Are you tied to your field, rung out' when this album really starts to take shape. 'We Never Win' returns to the soft beauty with Rateliff's vocals and guitar accompanied sparse piano notes and a couple of moments of vocal harmony. 'Brakemen' is slightly more upbeat in the vocal melody and there are moments where you feel this could have been placed on an Old Crow Medicine Show album. After a few more quiet moments, 'Oil & Lavender' being the highlight, along comes Shroud, a much needed radio-friendly song, Rateliff's voice is strong and the tinkering piano found on previous tracks is replaced by an electric guitar. 'You Should Have Seen the Other Guy' is another strong track, a harmonica accompanies Rateliffs voice producing an almost Dylan-esque effect. The country influence is brought back in 'Whimper and Wail' another heavily instrumented track. 'A Lamb on the Stone' is another radio-friendly track and leads the album into more genre crossing territory with the bluesy guitar solo. 'When your Here' is a return to the quietness heard at the beginning of the album and piano ballad 'Happy Just to Be' is plain and simply stunning. 'You Make all the Noise' ends with a harmonious choir, it gives elements of 'Mr Blue Sky' but in the best possible way. The final track 'Pounds and Pounds' shows a return the electric guitar heard on Shroud and the heavy ending drifts slowly into silence.

 

This album has some stunning parts, the opening few tracks are a little slow but the second half of the album is almost flawless. Nathaniel Rateliff is a songwriter who has set himself up for a long and great career in music. This album shows that he is an incredibly talented songwriter and although he still has a way to come before he can be considered with the great singer-songwriters, this album is a brilliant start. In Memory Of Loss is timeless, an album which deserves to be discovered and treasured for years to come.

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