Lukas Nelson + POTR’s Sticks and Stones albums is a thoroughly good listen. I know; I’ve been playing these twelve tracks all summer long.
Some of the songs are short, powerful stories succinctly showcasing the incredible musicianship of the Grammy winning Nelson and his band Promise of the Real (Anthony LoGerfo, Tato Melgar, Corey McCormick and Logan Metz) as anyone who has seen the lads perform their electrifying live show will testify. There’s traditional country on offer here and there’s legacy country, which Lucas Nelson + POTR deliver by the shovel, heaping on original lyrics and melodies to their solid back catalogue of songs, perfect to be enjoyed around a fire pit, on a tractor or in the kitchen, with kin, or taking time for yourself.
Nelson is who he writes. The title and opening track, ‘Sticks and Stones’ is one of the strongest this-is-me approaches to songwriting that I’ve heard for a while; “you can’t tell me nothing that will hurt/dust to dust we’re all just pushing dirt”. Nelson’s a gentle soul, he tells us; the only time he’ll fight is for family.
Lainey Wilson lends her vocals on the highly repeatable up beat lead single, ‘More Than Friends’, her trademark vocals blending effortlessly with Nelson, surely one of Country’s best duos since Willie and Lee Ann Womack won a Grammy for 2002’s ballad ‘Mendocino County Line.’ (although Wilson and Nelson do emit Dolly and Kenny vibes)
What I did delightfully discover over several listens is that instruments take turns in being highlighted on the songs. ‘If I Didn’t Love You’ highlights the keys; ‘Overpass’, the longest song, at over four minutes, meanwhile, is a guitar-laden delight.
‘Lying’, with its stripped back acoustic guitar, puts Nelson’s semi-iconic vocals front and centre (you’ve heard his voice before from Dad Willie, just in case you’re brand new to Country) alongside nature, “I just want to be up on a mountain/lying near a rocky stream with waters clear and blue/I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish that I was lying here with you”. The song is as beautiful as ‘Just Outside of Austin’, from 2017’s eponymous album.
‘All Four Winds’ has a relaxed island vibe, featuring a swaying harmonica, which continues on final track, the ballad ‘The View’.
‘Sticks and Stones’ in an honest, upbeat, fun album to while away the summer. Share with your favourite people. My favourite tracks are definitely ‘More Than Friends’ and the fun-based ‘Wrong House’ simply because of the lines, “I’m so happy just got home/smell your cooking on the stove/I’m so glad I made it back/wait a second who is that? Wrong house, wrong home/may I kindly use the phone”. We all need this kind of happy, storytelling music in our lives.
Track listing: 1. Sticks and Stones 2. Alcohallelujah 3. Every Time I Drink 4. More Than Friends (feat. Lainey Wilson) 5. Ladder of Love 6. Wrong House 7. Icarus 8. If I Didn’t Love You 9. Overpass 10. Lying 11. All Four Winds 12. The View Release date: 14th July 2023 Record Label: 6ACE Records/Thirty Tigers Buy ‘Sticks and Stones’ now