After finishing his second record with backing band the Night Sweats, energetic front man Nathaniel Rateliff found himself dealing with leftover emotions and materials that didn’t feel quite right for the group. It came at a tumultuous time for Rateliff, following a divorce in 2018 and the death of longtime producer and collaborator Richard Swift.
“Kind of honoring my commitment to him, I went back during one of our breaks doing Night Sweats with James Marone and Pat Meese and just started to make this record at his studio,” says Rateliff.
After Swift’s passing, the record began to take a different form and ended up as more of a tribute album to the veteran producer, with heartfelt goodbyes scattered throughout the songs. Rateliff describes the title track as a recognition of the universal symptom of grief, but emphasizes the need to move forward towards the light at the end of the tunnel. For him, sometimes the vessel to joy is songwriting.
“I hadn’t realized it before but part of that process of working through things is playing these songs live,” says Rateliff. “It’s becoming the character in that song and reliving that stuff and talking about it, that allows us a continued vulnerability to just work through it.”
What was meant to be a standard album cycle was flipped upside down, but Rateliff came out the other side with a heartfelt, cathartic release that showcased his voice in the best possible way.