Lukas Nelson + POTR “Sticks And Stones”

6 ACE Records /Thirty Tigers, 2023

Lukas Nelson explores the universal human experiences of love, celebration, longing, and humour.

There is certainly something for everybody in this album. Country obviously but rockabilly, pop and even gospel. All the songs have been written by Nelson himself and cover many themes including home, love and loss. As you would expect from musical royalty the production and general musicianship are exceptional throughout. The songs are on the whole short, very tight, and definitely punchy. The opening guitar and piano work of the title track set the tone instantly. Nelson is obviously feeling very relaxed and fatalistic about things: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but you can’t tell me nothing that will hurt .. dust to dust we are all just pushing dirt”. Nelson has said that “This album is about celebrating the human connection, joy, and excitement. We went from quiet and introspective on ‘A Few Stars Apart’ to something big and fun to really showcase the band’s talent and performance.”

The joys and tribulations of alcohol play a significant part in the makeup of the album from the dubious pun of ‘Alcolallelujah’ with its nod to gospel, to the joys of returning home to the wrong house after a “simple weekend on the town’ where he ‘woke up naked on the ground”. The honky-tonk  ‘Every Time I Drink’ details the difficulty of dealing with a break up “Every time I drink I think of her.. living is easy now, but it might get worse”. This theme is replicated in the beautiful and poignant ‘Lying’ where he muses “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish I was lying here with you…. Losing love ain’t worth the songs I write”. The duet ‘More than Friends‘ with Lainey Wilson on the other hands is country music at its very best, slightly cheesy, but simply joyful. Their voices blend perfectly together.

The album closes with ‘The View’, an acoustic ode to Hawaii where Nelson currently lives: “I don’t get no island fever and the grass couldn’t get much greener. I made my home over you and I’ll never get tired of the view’. This appears to suggest that despite what may have happened emotionally in the past Nelson is seemingly content with his lot. Melancholy and joy are the two immediate emotions that sum up this excellent recording.

Nelson has said “You can listen to the album from start to finish and get the songs to dance to and then the quiet, poignant songs. To me, this album is the perfect setlist”. He is not wrong.

10/10
10/10

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