The pandemic manifested for many a forced experiment in stillness with varying results, many still to be determined. For Lukas Nelson the product of that time, the most ever spent in one place, is the poignant new release with his band Promise Of The Real, A Few Stars Apart, Nelson’s full embrace of himself as a songwriter. An end-to-end tribute to love, loss, more love, and a celebration of the relationships we can have with one another, A Few Stars Apart gifts us a deeper understanding of Nelson through his voice, one that’s all too familiar yet fully his. “I finally decided not to run from who I am and who I am destined to be,” says Nelson. “First and foremost, that’s a songwriter. That’s what this record means to me. There’s a story being told through the whole record. A story about connection and coming home.”
Recorded at Nashville’s RCA Studio A with producer David Cobb, the opening track “We’ll Be Alright” is as innate a Nelson song as could be, the opening “You…” unmistakable in lineage. Nelson explained to The Austin American Statesman’s Peter Blackstock, his father’s recording history in that room compelled Nelson to perform it in tribute. “That song specifically was a direct ode to Dad,” Lukas says. "I was looking at his picture on the wall, and I thought, ‘I’m going do this song just like Dad would do it.’”
With that root established, follow-up track and standout first single “Perennial Bloom (Back To You)” shines its modern sound marking a clear boundary for Nelson’s individuality as an artist. From there, further love stories permeate the record as a whole, and in each one be it a celebration like in “Wildest Dream,” a ballad of longing like “Throwing Away Your Love” or a reflection upon the loss of a loved one as in “A Few Stars Apart,” none of the lines are throwaways as you travel the ballad’s journey. Nelson explains, “I’m a sucker for sappy love songs. For some reason, I find that I can say what I really want to say with ballads. You know, a song is like a short story. You really have to say a lot in a short amount of time and make it interesting—and keep it interesting. The game, for me, is to find a unique way of expressing something that we all feel.”
“Perennial Bloom (Back To You)” is spinning from coast to coast at KRSH and WXPN, as well as all throughout the middle at WRLT, WYEP, and KJAC, and Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real are scheduled to hit the road in September for an extensive Fall Tour.
Photo by Alysse Gafkjen