Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, "Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real" (Fantasy Records)
First, let's just get this out there: Lukas Nelson sounds a lot like his famous dad, the red-headed stranger better known as Willie Nelson.
Secondly, don't let the striking similarities in their vocal styles and deliveries cloud your judgment of the younger Nelson. At 28, he is the real deal and deserves to be treated seriously independent of his father's legacy.
On his latest self-titled release with his six-piece band Promise of the Real, Lukas Nelson delivers a haunting collection of 12 songs that's steeped in musical influences from his dad to recently departed Glen Campbell, Waylon Jennings and Neil Young — whom Promise of the Real has backed.
Lady Gaga appears on a couple tracks and vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Lessig of the indie-pop group Lucius back Nelson on the opening, and best, tune "Set Me Down on a Cloud." Nelson's quivering vocals over more than 7-minute country-rock ballad, accented by his lilting guitar and Lucius' singing, is enough to give you goosebumps.
"Set me down on a cloud, with my soul turned inside out," Nelson sings in the song he's said is about a friend whose child died in an accident. He delivers it so convincingly, you know exactly how he feels.
It's a bold, and inspired, choice to open the record and sets the tone for the entire soulful collection that should make his dad proud.