When Nathaniel Rateliff went to a writing retreat outside of Tucson, Arizona, for 11 days in the spring of 2017, he didn’t know he was starting his third full-length solo album. He thought he was actually sequestering himself to finish writing the last few songs for Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ follow-up album to their self-titled 2015 debut. In Tucson, Rateliff did manage to write the last few songs for what became the Richard Swift-produced Tearing at the Seams. But another song managed to creep in that was unlike any of the one’s he’d composed for the Night Sweats’ second effort, signaling that he had other things he wanted to say.
Quieter, more reflective than the songs he’d written for the Night Sweats album, the piece that became “What a Drag” was a sad confirmation that his marriage had run aground. He had touched on the topic in some of the songs on Tearing at the Seams, but with much more diehard-romantic ambivalence, still hanging onto a shred of hope that things might work out. When the first words of “What A Drag” appeared out of the dry Arizona air, it was a stark realization that things had become irrevocably broken, and he would have to finally face the end of his 11-year relationship. The repeating chorus of the song — the lead-off track for And It’s Still Alright, his new solo album – vividly conveys weighty resignation and chilling finality: “I left feeling alone.” via eventbrite