If you’re not ready for it, hearing Lukas Nelson uncannily impersonate his father Willie’s famously reedy voice can be a tad disorienting. And hearing the 23-year-old (!) put it in service of his alt-country/jam band, the Promise of the Real, will really blow your mind. At least Nelson the Younger has the good sense to sing about popular family topics like girl trouble and marijuana use on his band’s enjoyable, if entirely too long (a stoner-friendly 75 minutes!), second album, Wasted.
After the calypso feint of the opening “Golden Rule”, Nelson and his band wind their way through jammy barroom rock (“Wasn’t That Great”; “Old Familiar Pain”, where his narrator can’t ditch a bad girl; the epic title track), more than a few reflective tunes (“Frame of Mind”, with its longing “Take me off the mantle, babe / Put me in a frame of mind” refrain, and “Can You Hear Me Love You”, which, with its closing coda of “Aloha Oe”, may or may not evoke Papa Willie’s fellow Highwayman Johnny Cash, who closed 2010’s American VI: Ain’t No Grave with that tune) and, uh, songs about mary jane (“The Joint”; album centerpiece and total kickass jam “Don’t Take Me Back”).\
While the obvious analogs may be fellow country rebel scions like Shooter Jennings or Justin Townes Earle – neither of which are entirely inaccurate – the best comparison may be the Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson at his H.O.R.D.E festival jammiest, so do with that what you will. Fun, if desperately in need of a good editor, Nelson, with Wasted does more than just coast on his family name.
// Notes from the Road
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