The first things you notice are the voice and the space. That voice belongs to Nathaniel Rateliff, a man who's earned the twang and hard-knock weariness that shines through on his Rounder debut. The space comes courtesy of producer Brian Deck (Califone, Iron & Wine, Modest Mouse), who helped transform 8-track bedroom demos into miniature epics of contrast, beauty, and yearning. In Memory of Loss is a stunning, heartbreaking sonic document from a singer-songwriter who's made his way from a childhood in Bay, Missouri (pop. 60) to the national stage. Rateliff's debut album is rooted in a bygone era. It's both fresh and classic, imbued with a melancholy nostalgia, the rough candor of rock `n roll's past and the warmth and earnestness of folk storytellers. These thirteen tracks, with their soulful minimalism, hint of the music he grew up on - Van Morrison, Muddy Waters, The Beatles - yet Rateliff is also at home in what may be called, for lack of a better term, the neo-folk revival. His voice is so confident that you can occasionally imagine the music dropping out entirely, a song propelled solely by Rateliff's a capella strengths - equal parts church spiritual and TV On The Radio riffing on The Pixies. This persistent troubadour has struggled and persevered to this point. Now, the wider world is ready for Nathaniel Rateliff.