Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real: A Few Stars Apart on Fantasy Records
Slightly over a year since the release of Naked Garden, Lukas Nelson & POTR return with A Few Stars Apart on Fantasy Records. Produced by Dave Cobb at famed RCA Studio A this collection of songs stands out in only the best of ways.
I absolutely adored A Few Stars Apart and thought it would be the record the band would struggle to best and then they went out and one upped themselves. The production is sparse and not overbuilt as some things are. Nelson’s voice is up front in the mix and the instrumental accompaniment is always spot on allowing space for everyone involved. The songs are introspective and I can only imagine were born out of the events of the last 18 months.
As I listen and relisten to the record I am struck by the softness and kindness throughout the eleven tracks and the mindset Nelson must have been in. The collection kicks off with the mantra like “We’ll Be Alright” which sets the thematic tone for the songs to come. “Perennial Bloom” may be the only outright rocker on the album but it makes itself right at home. I expect the band will stretch out on this one in concert as it lends itself nicely to a country rock jam. “A Few Stars Apart” makes me think of 1970’s Elton John and that is not a bad thing. Easily one of my favorite songs, it is a showcase moment. “Leave em Behind” channels the groups inner Neil Young leanings and the plucking banjo pops in and out nicely. Everything has its place and this is easily one of the strongest tracks on A Few Stars Apart.
“Wildest Dream” is a nice jangly rock up that makes itself at home quickly. A little Petty-esque, but not in a derivative way, it showcases the versatility of the band and the singer.
“More than We Can Handle” with the piano and brush drums before it ramps up is a damn near perfect moment. The lyrics and delivery come together in just the right way on this one.
“Smile” wraps up album. Slowly paced and inward looking, it is a reminder of the impact lyrics can have. The piano and organ interplay nicely but had they done the track without instrumentation I still think it would have raised the hair on the back of my neck. Something about the subject and the delivery come together perfectly and close out this collection in an epic fashion.
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real have continued to set the bar high. Their ability to weave in and out of specific genres and create a noise all their own is impressive and yet it comes across as effortless. What does the future hold? Who knows, but I look forward to hearing what comes next from the band as I think they have their collective fingers on the pulse of something unique and special. https://lukasnelson.com