Early Spring Till by Nathaniel Rateliff

Many artists have perfected the art of sounding this desperate, aching and battered. But ‘Early Spring Till’ somehow avoids passing those emotions on to the listener, resulting in a strangely uplifting song. It’s the transparent sound of a man with nothing left to give but the tale of his own experiences. So why does it feel so uplifting?

Are you tired, do you feel wrung out?
Have you fallen from where glory sprouts?
Are you cut off in fields, and pressed down?
Like an early spring till that don’t come round,
I think I’ve been there.

The root of this positivity could be that this tune is essentially an advice song. It may not be as obvious as ‘Everybody Hurts’ (surely the most acclaimed advice song of all time), but when we hear him mutter ‘I think I’ve been there’, he gives an understanding nod to those who currently feel like an early spring till, that don’t come round (for those not blessed enough to come from a farming background, here’s a definition of what tilling actually is). It’s this line that transforms a man who’s down and out, to a man who’s beaten his demons to emerge on the other side.

Nathaniel’s voice is a cleaner version of some of his more obvious comparisons, and lacks the dark tendencies inherent in voices erupting from the Mr Hinson’s or Sir ‘Prince’ Billy’s of this world. We don’t notice when he starts shouting, he just seems to be whispering louder. The power is in the variation between his fits of exploded expression, in both this song and the full album.

It’ll fully deserves to be one of the songs of 2011, and I have no doubt that it will be.


Where now? Click here to listen to this song and others on the Words.About.Music Spotify Playlist, and read about each track here.

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