Promise of the Real

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If you were Willie Nelson’s son, you’d likely have been taught that music is a big blank canvas. After all, Willie’s been forging his own steadfastly original path for decades. The biggest similarity between Lukas Nelson and his daddy is the free-thinking approach to music-making they share. The second biggest is Lukas’ voice, which lacks Willie’s emotional depth but is often a reedy dead-ringer for his dad’s. Lukas’ most expressive tool is the guitar, which he plays with skill, passion and a hippie’s spirit on his band’s cosmic blues-rock and loose, rootsy fare. No surprise that he covers songs by classic-rock standbys Jimi Hendrix and Neil Young, though his ease and confidence with them exceed expectations. Lukas’ original songs, if not remarkable, are solidly performed and display welcome variety despite being rock-derived—Latin rhythms propel a couple of tracks, while others are fashioned from rustic folk and country threads. Clearly, Lukas is comfortable with whatever he attempts, allowing Promise of the Real to make good on its pledge of authenticity.

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