One of the central musical relationships in soul music is between a band's lead shouter and the other voices supporting her or him. In her glory years, Aretha Franklin musically conversed with her family of backup singers, the Sweet Inspirations; Otis Redding upped his own unbeatable energy in dialogue with the Memphis Horns. Nathaniel Rateliff, the singer-songwriter now carrying on the classic soul tradition with his powerful band The Night Sweats, does a bit of both in "What I Need," a slow burner from his 2015 Howling At Nothing EP.
Taken from the band's recent Austin City Limits performance (airing this weekend), this version of "What I Need" starts its stroll toward catharsis with the brass asking Rateliff for a dance; his bandmates' perfect harmonies make the romance more intense. Rateliff immerses the song in blues with a burning guitar solo at the end, as the horns add an extra push. Just like the lyrics of the song, this performance reminds us that life is better when we're not going it alone.
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