Lukas Nel­son & Prom­ise Of The Real

A fa­mous dad and Neil Young’s seal of ap­proval help, but this band show lots of real prom­ise.

Classic Rock - - The Dirt - Lukas Nel­son & Prom­ise Of The Real is out now via Fan­tasy.

“I’m al­ways so con­fused when peo­ple say that my songs sound so dif­fer­ent from each other. To me it just sounds like rock’n’roll.”

“For a long time I wanted to be an Olympic swim­mer,” says Lukas Nel­son. “I was re­ally into skate­board­ing and surf­ing too, but then mu­sic took over.”

For all his early am­bi­tions, there was a cer­tain in­evitabil­ity about the ca­reer path he would even­tu­ally take. Lukas is the son of coun­try leg­end Wil­lie Nel­son, and for the past nine years has been fronting his own band, Prom­ise Of The Real. “Learn­ing to play guitar and writ­ing songs is how I got close to my dad,” says Lukas, whose first mu­si­cal mem­ory is be­ing on stage with The High­way­men, the coun­try su­per­group formed by his fa­ther, Johnny Cash, Merle Hag­gard and Kris Kristof­fer­son. “I feel that the com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween us is a big part of why I play mu­sic.”

Tak­ing their name from a lyric in Neil Young’s 1974 tune Walk On, Prom­ise Of The Real hit the sweet spot be­tween coun­try, south­ern blues and clas­sic rock’n’roll. Lat­est al­bum Lukas Nel­son & Prom­ise Of The Real stirs mem­o­ries of The Band, Leon Rus­sell, De­laney & Bon­nie and Glen Camp­bell. Plus, nat­u­rally, Neil Young.

“When it comes to the guys I grew up lis­ten­ing to – Neil, The Bea­tles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dy­lan – no two songs sound the same on their records,” he ex­plains of his modus operandi. “I’m al­ways so con­fused when peo­ple say that my songs sound so dif­fer­ent from each other. To me it just sounds like rock’n’roll. Back in the day, when I was try­ing to get a record deal, the la­bels would tell me that it was too var­ied. But it all seemed co­he­sive to me.”

The new al­bum fea­tures a di­verse range of guests, from mem­bers of Brook­lyn quar­tet Lu­cius to Lady Gaga, Wil­lie Nel­son him­self and, on pi­ano, Lukas’s Aunt Bob­bie, now in her 80s. It’s the sex­tet’s fifth stu­dio al­bum, but feels very much like a land­mark. “I’ve got some new mem­bers in the band and they’ve added a lot of space,” Lukas says. “And we’ve built it up a lit­tle more, with a big­ger sound. It’s a step up, for sure.”

This new‑found au­thor­ity is partly down to their re­cent col­lab­o­ra­tion with one of their he­roes. In 2015, hav­ing been im­pressed by their per­for­mance at Farm Aid, Neil Young en­listed Prom­ise Of The Real to back him on The Mon­santo Years. Im­me­di­ately af­ter­wards, they be­came his tour­ing band.

“Some­times you play golf with some­body who’s much bet­ter than you are and you start to get this surge of con­fi­dence and play bet­ter,” says Nel­son. “That’s what it was like with Neil.

There’s a mu­tual re­spect there, and we’ve learned so much just from the way he keeps a con­stant fo­cus on his mu­sic and his art.”

Nel­son also re­veals that there’s a new Young/POTR al­bum on the way soon. “It’s a stu­dio record, and the songs are so pos­i­tive,” he says. “There’s a lot of love in there, it’s up­lift­ing and it’s quite a de­par­ture from The Mon­santo Years. I think it’s go­ing to blow peo­ple’s minds.” RH


“Neil Young has re­leased so many records that have in­flu­enced me, but I also love Harry Nils­son,” says Lukas Nel­son. “I think he’s one of the great­est singers in the whole of rock’n’roll. He did an amaz­ing ver­sion of The Bea­tles’ Mother Na­ture’s Son on Harry [1969], and his style of pro­duc­tion is just so beau­ti­ful too.”

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