Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real
Turn Off The News (Build A Garden)
Fantasy / Caroline Australia
Lukas Nelson has been busy over the last few years since his and Promise Of The Real’s last, self-titled, studio album. There have been tours as Neil Young’s backing band, their own shows, Nelson’s musical work on the A Star Is Born film and now it appears they also found time to record this new album.
Opening with the Tom Petty-sounding ‘Bad Case’, the band quickly establish a slick and accomplished rock sound, the kind that comes from bigger budgets and larger studios. Smoking pot and hanging around hippies and dreamers gives these songs an idealistic feel, particularly the title track.
Musically, things generally tread the straight and narrow (not like Uncle Neil who preferred to head for the ditch). ‘Where Does Love Go?’ is a mid-tempo rock chugger, another doff of the hat to Petty. The band certainly have impressive chops but too often their recorded sound comes across as overworked and slick. A little more dirt under the nails and roughed up edges would have brought some more life and verve to the music.
Minor diversions into reggae-lite and soulful harmonies cloy but when Nelson and band strip away the layers on a songs such as ‘Mystery’ and the relaxed groove of ‘Simple Life’, the sweet centre of his songwriting is revealed. ‘Out In L.A.’ throws some humour and a Harry Nilsson playfulness into the mix before it heads for orbit on a Doors shakedown. Kesha, Margo Price, Sheryl Crow, Shooter Jennings, Lucius, Willie Nelson and Neil Young all make guest appearances though none particularly grab the spotlight, instead they use their talents to service the songs from within.
By the time Promise Of The Real leave us with the disco-sounding ‘Stars Are Made Of You’, which faintly resembles ‘Love Is In The Air’ at times, the band have covered all bases, from rock, funk and soul to country and blues. It may be too sanitised for some ears but there’s no denying they are masters of interpretation.