Nathaniel Rateliff has left his birthplace of Bay, Missouri — population: 60 — far behind. Still, the sound of small-town quietude and sly complexities percolating below a placid surface still defines the Denver songwriter's mostly spare, acoustic concept. With his ripe and worn baritone, pick-and-scratch guitar and feel for jazzy melodies, he gives depth to songs of intimate reveries and regret on this year's Rounder debut, In Memory of Loss. Producer Brian Deck (Califone, Iron & Wine) gives those songs a surging undercurrent of guitar fuzz, mallet-heavy, tom drumming and the kind of riveting harmonies that have nearly made kindred spirits such as the Avett Brothers household names. Rateliff may not be on the Americana radar just yet, but with songs and a sound this striking, he will be soon.
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