(HUDSON, N.Y.) – As soon as he opens his mouth and sings, the relationship is unmistakable. Like his father, Willie Nelson, Lukas Nelson has a unique, reedy vocal instrument with a natural twang and vibrato, and a sense of ease with gliding melismas – one note flowing into another on the same syllable. Lukas Nelson, however, has his own sound – he’s got more of a Roy Orbison-like tenor voice, and his musical aesthetic owes as much to his father’s more rock-oriented contemporaries as to his father’s country and pop influences. “Four Letter Word,” for example, is an overt nod to Bringing It All Back Home-era Bob Dylan, and the slow, brooding funk of “Pali Gap/Hey Baby” flaunts his hotshot electric guitar chops by way of Jimi Hendrix. Nelson brings his rock quartet, Promise of Real, to Club Helsinki Hudson on Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 8 p.m. Sarah Borges opens the show.
Last year, Nelson and band played over 200 high-energy, spirited performances, including such mega-musical events as Farm Aid and high-profile TV gigs including Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and the adoption of the name Realers by their growing base of supporters.
During summer 2011, Nelson, 22 years old at the time, found himself in the most intense writing jag of his early career. His journey spanned three soul-searching summer months during an intense 15-week tour. The result is the band’s second full-length album, Wasted.
On Wasted, the band’s familiar sound evolved from past recordings. A huge influence on this was Neil Young, whom Lukas calls a “distant mentor” and who suggested the band try a different approach to recording their new album. “Neil Young suggested that we record the music live in the studio in analog, which is something we didn’t do on the last album,” says Nelson. “It really added a lot of magnetism, energy, and gave the music a live feel, and a lot of warmth to it. I feel like this record sounds more like what you get when you see us perform.”
Drummer Anthony LoGerfo explains: “Neil recommended recording the record at 192 [which denotes the speed of the tape], and is kind of a futuristic thing. Normally records are recorded at 48. It’s similar to picture quality – the more picture frames that are in a square, the crisper and clearer the picture is. It’s the same with music. Also, this process makes you record live which makes it very real. You can’t do a lot of overdubs and everything is dry when you record it, so we recorded everything in analog and used a lot of older equipment, which gave it a bit of a vintage sound. But, to me, it’s like a new vintage sound because the old feel is there but is still really crisp and clear.”
The band had a magical time in the studio, taking Nelson’s acoustic guitar renditions of the 14 tracks and turning them into true Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real creations. “I think he’s improved a lot as a songwriter because he’s writing a little more cohesively and showing us a different side to his writing. It’s a little harder, more rockin’, and more danceable,” says LoGerfo of Nelson’s growth as a writer. But, lest we forget: Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real is a band. “Lukas gets all credit for writing, and I’m proud of what he’s done here, but the arrangement and the sound is definitely the band,” says LoGerfo. “We’d listen to the song on his cheap little recorder one time through and then go into the studio together and start jamming and it would come out completely different than how we wrote it. The lyrics and chord changes were there, but the sound would just morph.”
Helping the band fine tune their sound was Wasted co-producer Jim “Moose” Brown, the Grammy Award-winning session musician/songwriter/producer and Bob Seger guitarist. The album was recorded at Brown’s Moose Lodge Studios in Nashville and he helped POTR broaden their sound by introducing instruments they haven’t recorded with before, such as Dobro guitar, Wurlitzer piano, Hammond B3 Organ, which Moose plays; and steel guitar played by Cowboy Eddie Long (who has played with Jamey Johnson, Hank Williams III). Joining Moose and Cowboy as special guests on the album is Harmonica player Mickey Raphael and Lukas’ sister Amy Nelson who sings on two of the album’s tracks.
The first single from the record is the title track, “Wasted,” a feel-good tune with a strutty vibe. “I had just finished Keith Richards’ book Life when I wrote that song,” says Nelson of the song’s inspiration. “It was kind of influenced by the Stones and I wanted the song to be something that reflected our live show and that I could really move to onstage.” Logerfo adds, “This song and this album are really road tunes. By being on the road together so long for those three months, we really improved as a band and got tighter and you hear that on this album. The songs are really jammy and fun to play live and represent us and we hope all the Realers out there enjoy it!”
For reservations in The Restaurant or in the club call 518.828.4800
Club Helsinki Hudson
405 Columbia St.