"I don't consider myself particularly intelligent or gifted," Colorado-based Nathanial Rateliff told me in an interview at the South By Southwest music conference this year.
This, after having a completed a new album with famed producer Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Josh Ritter, Iron & Wine). After having picked up by Rounder Records to essentially "do whatever I want to do" -- whether that's release inspired solo sets (formerly under the performance name The Wheel) or take back up with his rock band Born In The Flood. After trickling his Americana and folk-inspired career through several filters of Midwestern towns, an impoverished upbringing, dead end jobs, family tragedies and the ultimate decision to flourish as a musician full-time.
Rateliff has modestly paid his dues -- whether opening for the Fray at Red Rocks or plucking away in barns in Iowa -- and the fruits are "In Memory of Loss," out tomorrow (May 5). He says he has no expectations as to how it's accepted commercially, but from what I know of his extensive catalog, I can tell you want to expect...
It's like the shock of hearing "For Emma, Forever Ago" from Bon Iver for the first time. Or the quiet rumblings of Springsteen's belly on "Nebraska." Rateliff is a gangbusters songwriter, without a big budget stage production, a 30-piece orchestra or lusty, cheap language or eye-popping covers to promote him to the tops of blogs. He's a songwriter's songwriter, dare I say exceptionally gifted, even one label-signed album in, with legions of material to claw him through efforts in years to come.
Below you can check "Early Spring Till," for those of you in the not-L.A. area who are suffering the wiles of the season. Catch him on tour with his well-practiced backing band through the beginning of June. Hear many tunes here, at his MySpace site.
[Stream the track after the jump...]