When the world’s of country, rock and blues collide the music that is created will move me in a really cool way. Whether that be rock artistes making their great country album (hey, every great band does it at some point) or blues and country guys plugging in and turning up to 11, the noise that ensues is something that gets my soul pumping. And so it is with Turn Off The News (Build A Garden) the new album from California based Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real.
Right from the opening chords of Bad Case this is a country album with riffs and attitude. And it doesn’t lift it’s foot of the throttle driving through 13 fabulous tracks with powerful messages; and it is no surprise that this album has a message, given Lukas being the son of Willie Nelson and that Promise of the Real have been working as Neil Young’s backing band. Indeed this album is proof that the torch of political, environmental and message driven country rock music is being passed onto safe hands of a new generation. The spirit of Willie and Neil truly infiltrates into Turn Off The News, an influence that lifts this album greatly.
One would imagine that Nelson himself would wish that this album stands on its own as a work without having to fall back and rely on comparison with his father or those he’s worked with and indeed, for me, it certainly does that. However, it would be remiss not to mention similarities, in particular in the singing style of Lukas that is so reminiscent of his father, seeing as they are so obviously intrinsic in the sound of Turn Off The News. However, it is only a small part of what makes this album such a great listen. What this album does do, though, is take that similarity to new places, develops the sound and creates a fresh new direction for country rock.
All in all this album works on two very different levels, but in a way that brings those two groups together beautifully in a broadchurch of musical enjoyment. If you like hard driving riff laden rock music this is an album that will introduce you to something new. If you are an aficionado of the country rock of old this an album that will reassure you that the future is bright and in great hands. Yes, you can turn off the news, Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real have built you a musical garden of rocky beauty in the wonderful world of country music.