You’d expect Lukas Nelson to be something of an insurgent, given that his dad, Willie Nelson, is something of an insurgent himself. But whereas his old man occasionally dips into more adult terrain — a tendency that by his latest effort, a tribute to George Gershwin — Lukas, his brother Micah and their fellow Promise of the Real bandmates make no such concessions. Again, that comes as little surprise considering the fact that the band made a prominent appearance on Neil Young’s recent rail against corporate greed, the album entitled The Monsanto Years. With mentors like that, it’s little wonder that Nelson wails with such verbosity and shows such little remorse along the way.
“I want to see you get mad, I want to see you crying for me. Give me something real!” he shouts on the title track, and he prods his audience to do just that throughout.
Not that there isn’t an an occasional respite. The sparse, reflective “Georgia” reveals some softer sentiment, while the weary and worn “Set Me Down on a Cloud” even hints at some remorse. And when the band reprise the classic hippie anthem, “San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)” with uncle Neil adding a vocal assist no less, one’s tempted to do a double take to be sure it’s not an oldies album that’s spinning on the turntable instead.
That’s not a putd own however. A little reverence is a good thing, especially when it tempers a renegade rocker like Lukas. Besides, there’s more than enough raucous, rampaging melodies included here — the surprisingly Rush-like “Surprise,” “Don’t Want to Fly” and the blistering “Something Real” among them. If the band’s about to soften their stance, the evidence remains fairly moot. Something Real isn’t for the faint of heart, and at the moment anyway, that’s a reality that suits them just fine.