Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real - Sticks and Stones
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Sticks and Stones (ACE Records/Thirty Tigers, 2023)

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Is the fact that Lukas Nelson has a famous father (Willie Nelson) a blessing or a curse? One might well wonder if this is somehow the case because he deserves so much more attention than he gets. Listening to "Sticks and Stones" offers plenty of new evidence that Lukas inherited great songwriting skills from his dad. It's one of his best efforts to date, too.

The title track is a rather serious response to any and all that might judge Nelson and attempt to hurt him with mere words. Nelson is too tough-skinned for that, though. "Ladder of Love" is another sincere song, this time concerning getting back on the horse – so to speak – and getting back into the love and romance game. It's a wonderful, western swing-inspired number, too.

Better still, though, is how Lukas has a great sense of humor, just like his old man. The honky tonk piano assisted "Every Time I Drink" is a fun song about how a guy can't divorce his boozing from a certain woman. "Wrong House" is even funnier. After a long night of partying, a guy arrives home – or so he thinks – to the smell of breakfast cooking. He's so glad to be back home, that is until he realizes he's returned to the wrong house. Whoops! Once the guy recognizes his error, he asks, "May I kindly use the phone?"

Nelson collaborates with Lainey Wilson (doesn't everybody these days?) on "More Than Friends." It's a fun, upbeat song where Nelson also throws in some nice, stinging electric guitar lines. It's not the greatest song (from either Nelson or Wilson), but Wilson sings it so well, it still works on a relatively minor level.

Whatever you do, don't avoid Lukas Nelson just because he happens to be the child of an icon. He's recording some of the best country music being made these days and should not be missed.

CDs by Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real

Sticks and Stones, 2023 A Few Stars Apart, 2021

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