Musician Nathaniel Rateliff made his Saturday Night Live debut last night, wowing the at-home and in-studio audiences away with “Redemption”, a cut from his latest album And It’s All Alright that is featured in the Justin Timberlake movie Palmer. After years of growing success, the St. Louis native, who joined host Regina King on the live broadcast, is having a large breakout year –– which also includes some Academy Award buzz.
Rateliff’s latest project comes from a very intimate place, he says on his site. The rising musician grabbed inspiration for his third solo album from not only the unraveling of his 11-year relationship and marriage but also the death of his close friend and producer Richard Swift. The two became friends quickly, bonding over their shared experiences like growing up in very religious households. Swift died after succumbing to complications related to his alcohol addiction. “I wrote ‘And It’s Still Alright’ about Richard, but it just as easily could have been about me,” Rateliff shared. “‘Rush On’ is also for Richard. We struggled with a lot of the same issues. I guess I understood in some ways why he let himself go, so I tried to write from that perspective, to confront the emptiness that you can’t seem to get away from and the danger of letting it overtake you.”
Viewers who were unaware of the singer and his body of work took to social media to share their thoughts. The general consensus is that the Saturday Night Live appearance was a refreshing success.
Of his 2018 divorce, the singer and songwriter revealed that he had some trouble deciding what to say in his music. “It took me a long time to be honest with myself and know that [writing about something] is part of my process of dealing with things,” he shared with Esquire. Rateliff was on tour at the time he began writing about the experience. “I remember writing the songs [for that set] in the desert and it was almost like you’re writing with this prophetic sense, letting your subconscious go places…But I was like, ‘Well, I can’t actually say that. That gives away too much information.’”
i just think it’s genuinely cool that #SNL could book a relatively niche, adult-alternative type rock act like Nathaniel Rateliff, who’s obviously killing it here. Brings me back to the 2007 era of just really cool indie rock acts every week.
— Tall Jordan Schmidt (@TallGuySchmidt) February 14, 2021
This is not his first time at 30 Rock for a musical performance. Rateliff appeared on The Tonight Show a few years back with his band The Night Sweats. Watch the performance of “S.O.B.” over here on YouTube.
As noted, his recently released single “Redemption” can be heard in Apple TV’s latest film Palmer, starring Justin Timberlake. The movie follows a former high school football star (Timberlake) who, after spending 12 years in prison returns home to rebuild his life and career. Alisha Wainwright, who many may remember from the hand-holding scandal that took place in 2019, also stars in the film. “For me, the song is about what I saw in the film, and what I see out there in the world, of continuing to struggle until we find some kind of peace and some kind of answer,” Rateliff said in an interview to Variety. “It’s about hope and connection. At the end of the song, there’s the line ‘we keep running until we learn to find peace’,” he added.