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Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real (from the album Sticks and Stones available on 6 Ace Records/Thirty Tigers) (by Lee Zimmerman)
Some might say — and rightfully so — that Lukas Nelson has a quite an imposing legacy to live up to. After all, when your father is a living legend like Willie Nelson — who just celebrated his 90th birthday no less —- it makes for a pretty auspicious challenge even before you play your first note.
Fortunately, the younger Nelson has proven that he’s quite capable of meeting the challenge that lies before him. Granted, he’s not quite ready to step into the elder Nelson’s shoes. Considering Willie’s near sacred stature, it’s unlikely anyone will be able to fill that role now or in the foreseeable future.
Still, Lukas can already revel in his own reputation. His band, Promise of the Real (POTR), has attained special status as one of Neil Young’s two most reliable backing bands, actually squeezing out Crazy Horse, at least temporarily, as far as Young’s go-to group is concerned. So too, Lukas and his brother Micah have served their dear old dad well, collaborating with him whenever opportunity is afforded.
With a Grammy to his name — for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media, no less — he needn’t reference family or friends when it comes to discerning his own distinction.
It’s not that Lukas necessarily distances himself from Willie’s particular sound and style. There’s a clear connection to the music, especially when it comes to the clever and catchy approach taken on the majority of the Sticks and Stones songs. That’s apparent in the down-home delivery of the title track, the irreverent attitude described in “Alchohallelujah” and the decadent desire of “Every Time I Drink”. Certain songs — “More Than Friends”, “Ladder of Love”, and “If I Didn’t Love You” — even manage to entangle romance and revelry with equal aplomb. On the other hand, “Wrong House” and “Icarus” embody a certain undeniable irony, but purvey more than a hint of regret and remorse in the process.
While Lukas Nelson can certainly stake a reputation of the outlaw image inherited from his dad, there’s no denying that he has a sentimental side as well. “Lying”, “The View”, and “All Four Winds” embrace empathy and emotion to an equal degree, suggesting that even a rowdy renegade can find cause to employ tender trappings. Sticks and Stones may break some bones, but, in this case, they strengthen the sound. (By Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real from AMAZON
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