There are things in life we may only come to realize the moment we take the time to slow down.
Riding out the beginning of the pandemic with his parents, and brother, Micah, Grammy Award-winning country-rocker, Lukas Nelson, was forced to hit pause in 2020 for the first time in his life, after having toured relentlessly for more than a decade, playing countless sold-out shows and festivals around the world. “I have to say, as terrible as the pandemic has been in so many ways, for my inner peace, I was able to take a lot of good from this time. I was able to pause and reflect.” Nelson was forced to find stillness, connection, and inspiration in life’s simplest joys. Out of this time of reflection, came a creative spark.
Produced by Grammy Award-winner Dave Cobb, A Few Stars Apart is the latest offering from Nelson and his band Promise of the Real; a testament to finding a human connection: between close family and friends, as well as one’s own heart.
Across the album’s eleven songs, including previously released tracks “Throwin’ Away Your Love,” “Leave ‘Em Behind” and “Perennial Bloom (Back To You),” the band reveals what it means to come home again, to be still, and to find community—and yourself.
Understanding the intricacies of love is paramount when helping guide you to where you belong. The opening track, “We’ll Be Alright,” reminds us that much like everything else, love comes with a price, but remember to hang on – with love, all survive. As said in the lyrics: “But look at the sun / How it shines on despite / Despite all the darkness / We’ll be alright.” When you have love in your heart, and love in your life, you’ll shine brighter than any star in the night sky.
Progressing through the record we are presented with the title track. A piano-led ballad that communicates closeness. Dedicated to their late friend Nancy, Nelson found himself looking up to the stars the night of her passing, and vowed to never stop looking up at the sky. As her spirit guided him, he began to write a song that illustrates the fact that no matter how big the universe, we are never more than a few stars apart from one another. No one is ever alone.
Sensually, “Wildest Dreams” is Lukas’ nod to a lover: “And I picked you up and carried you / And I lay you on the bed / And we created a memory / I won’t soon forget.” Though he is merely a drop of rain falling from a cloud in the summer sky, after so many years, Lukas longs to see “her” again and keep the dream alive. The energetic mid-tempo tune brings a great balance to what is largely an album of a much more laid-back nature.
A twinkling piano, turned swinging country jam, is “More Than We Can Handle.” When the going gets tough, you do what you can, but if you can’t do anything, you may as well sit back and laugh about it! “If everything went to shit, then I’ve got my family and I’ve got the people I love and care about around me,” says Nelson. We must instill our love and faith in God, and trust he will give us no more than we can handle. Remembering at the very least, we’ve got each other.
On the final track, Nelson’s vocals are accompanied by a lone piano until after the chorus, where the band joins in. Soft and slow, “Smile” is the perfect mellow and intimate ending to what is my favourite Lukas Nelson & POTR album to date.
The greatest painting one can look at is a sky full of stars. With each song from this record a star that lights up the most blackened of skies.