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In Music

This week's Shank Hall show is Nathaniel Rateliff's first in town since his 2012 Summerfest appearance. (PHOTO: David Bernacchi)

In Music

The new songs are packaged in a bright sleeve that conjures perhaps a more bubbly pop record than Rateliff's typically stark, often dark arrangements.

Rateliff returns, but just for a day

Denver-based singer/songwriter Nathaniel Rateliff – who plays Thursday, April 17 at Shank Hall – loves Milwaukee. So much so that he considered moving here.

Rateliff is touring on the heels of the "official" release of his disc, "Falling Faster Than You Can Run," which is the second to carry only his name. A 2007 disc was released under the name Nathaniel Rateliff and the Wheel.

He returns to Milwaukee this week for the first time since his 2012 Summerfest appearance.

The new disc – which was "secretly" released last September – continues Rateliff's run of hard-hitting, dynamic songs rooted in folk, like the ones on its predecessor, "In Memory of Loss."

This time, however, the songs are packaged in a bright sleeve that conjures perhaps a more bubbly pop record than Rateliff's typically stark, often dark arrangements.

We had the chance to ask the singer/songwriter – who also fronts a soul band called The Night Sweats – a few questions via email in advance of his performance here... Was it that typical "difficult second album"?

Nathaniel Rateliff: I had recorded earlier records with other projects and as a solo artist. So I wasn't too worried about recording it as a second record.

OMC: Or did being on the road so much help you focus on writing it?

NR: Being on the road so much made it hard to really finish the songs.

OMC: Was there a little more pressure this time 'round, in the sense that you were in a position of having to follow up a great record?

NR: I didn't have much pressure from a record label, mostly I just wanted to try make another record that I liked. I work pretty well under pressure.

OMC: I'm curious to hear a bit about the decision to release the record "secretly" last autumn and to "officially" release it now. Were you testing the waters a bit or were you so proud of it you couldn't wait to get it out there?

NR: I had finished the record in March of 2013. We had a tour coming in September and we knew we needed to have a new record out. So we just put it out.

OMC: I'm not sure why, but the cover doesn't look how I expected it to look.

NR: That's funny, some people have asked me if the cover is two men. I always say that I'm not cool enough for that. But what I was trying to do with the cover is create an image that had tension and longing.

OMC: While certainly your music has qualities of folk music, I never think of it in those terms. Are we moving toward a post-pigeonholing world in terms of music?

NR: When people ask me what type of music I play, I say folk, Americana or singer songwriter. I don't think of myself in those terms, but it's easier for people to get it if I just say that. As far as post-pigeonholing goes, we as a culture will move past pigeonholing.

OMC: You've been to Milwaukee a few times now, do you like it here?

NR: I love Milwaukee. I wanted to move there till I went in the early spring. I always enjoy visiting the friends I have there and we have had some amazing evenings.

OMC: Anything you're hoping to do or see here if you get a few free minutes?

NR: It's usually hard to get out and see anything. Hopefully try and get some great food while we are there.

OMC: Finally, what can we expect at the show?

NR: We will be doing a full band tour: Joseph B Pope III (guitar), Jenna Conrad (strings), Patrick Meese (drums), Mark Shusterman (keyboards) and, of course, myself. Expect it to be good.


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