REVIEW: Get a Glimpse Behind the Scenes with Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real on “Naked Garden”


Considering his bloodline, it’s not surprising that Lukas Nelson is a prolific songwriter. Just last year, the band released Turn off the News (Build a Garden), which seemed like just the thing we needed to hear when bad news abounds. Now the band is releasing a companion album called Naked Garden. It includes songs that didn’t make it onto Turn off the News (Build a Garden) as well as alternate takes of songs included on that album.

Of the album, the band stated, “When we walked out of Shangri-La recording studio on the sixth day, we knew we had captured something special. The process had been simple: we would gather around a coffee table on the lawn, Lukas would present a new song on an acoustic guitar, and then we’d go inside and roll tape.” Naked Garden gives the listener a sample of some of those recording sessions.

“Entirely Different Stars” feels like three different songs. The first few minutes are something of an alt-country melody with Nelson telling a story about escaping on a spaceship to a “little farm 1,000 light years south of Mars”. Then it reaches the instrumental freakout in the middle that is equal parts Jimi Hendrix and Gary Clark Jr. From there it eases into an instrumental country waltz to end the song. At the end, you hear Nelson say, “Let’s go listen.” It’s a listening experience of seven minutes, and that’s only the first song.

To say that this album has a raw quality would be a bit misleading. It’s not like this is a punk band who recorded an album in a basement. However, when you focus on it, you hear some things that would normally be cut from the recording or refined to make it a little more slick. And it’s not just at the end of songs when you hear Nelson say things like “That felt great.” There are guitar tones and beats that definitely feel like they weren’t worked to death by a producer.

The album closes with the sad waltz “The Way You Say Goodbye”. This song seems like pretty good evidence that Lukas has learned a thing or two about songwriting from his dad. Nelson captures the heartache when he sings, “I love the way you love me, but I hate the way you say goodbye.” Frankly it would be pretty amazing to hear this as a duet between father and son.

This album has a very warm feel. The recording makes it feel like you’re in the studio just watching and listening to the band work. Although work doesn’t seem like the right word when you can hear how much the band enjoys creating these songs. You have to give the band credit. This album is nearly 70 minutes long, and it’s over before you know it, which means you just might want to play it on repeat. Naked Garden will be available everywhere on March 27. Order your copy here.

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