Posts Tagged ‘Promise of the Real’

It seems like yesterday that Diane and I made our way to the World Cafe Live to see the Staves, our first official concert of 2017, but it’s been eight months since that wondrous show – the first of many good and great live-music experiences in 2017.

Yeah, I’m already looking back.

There’s been a lot of great music released this year, too, including gems from Garland Jeffrey (14 Steps to Harlem), Lucy Rose (Something’s Changing), Paul Weller (A Kind Revolution) and, in the archival department, Neil Young (Hitch Hiker) and Paul McCartney (Flowers in the Dirt). Over the next few weeks, I plan to revisit all my favorites and – in the second week of December – reveal the OGC’s top pick for 2017 at our annual awards fete. And though I already have an inkling as to which will come out on top, the process is guaranteed to be fun.

And, with that, here’s today’s Top 5: New Releases, Vol. IVIX.

1) Neil Young & Promise of the Real – “Already Great.” Neil and the Real unveil The Visitor on December 1st, which if this, the lead single, is any indication – was inspired by Neil’s resident-status in the U.S.A and the 2016 presidential election. Past and present will intermingle on the 1st, too: He wrote on Facebook that “my archive will open on that same day, a place you can visit and experience every song I have ever released in the highest quality your machine will allow. It’s the way it’s supposed to be. In the beginning, everything is free.”

2) The Staves & yMusic – “The Way Is Read.” On Nov. 24th, the sisters Staveley-Taylor release their latest project, a collaboration with yMusic, a chamber ensemble. This, the title track, is the second song they’ve shared. Like the first, it bodes well for the project.

Here’s the first preview:

3) First Aid Kit – “Postcard.” Siblings Johanna and Klara Söderberg have a new album, Ruins, scheduled for release on January 19th; and a (sold-out) tour of America in January and February, to boot.

4) Lucy Rose – “End Up Here.” The singer-songwriter debuted this video, shot by her husband, last week. (She’s currently on tour in the U.K., with an Australian jaunt slated for February.) The song itself is from her 2017 albumSomething’s Changing.)

5) Erin O’Dowd – “Trick Pony.” Erin’s full-length debut, Old Town, is slated for an early digital release next month for Kickstarter backers and will see a wider release early next year. Here’s she is on VDub Sessions:

And two bonuses…

6) Bob Seger – “Busload of Faith.” Here’s a preview of Bob’s forthcoming LP, I Knew You When, which is due out on the 17th. It’s a cover of a Lou Reed track…

7) Bob Dylan – “Slow Train (Rehearsal With Horns).” The bard’s latest Bootleg Series entry, Trouble No More, covers the years 1979-81, when he fell hard for faith.


I’m grooving to Earth as I type – both the planet and Neil Young’s latest album. It’s a collection of nature-inspired songs from throughout his career (plus the new “Seed Justice”) recorded with Promise of the Real during the 2015 Rebel Content tour and enhanced, on some tracks, with a choir and assorted animal noises, including birds, crickets and other insects. There’s a few songs from last year’s The Monsanto Years, plus “My Country Home,” “Vampire Blues,” “Human Highway,” “After the Gold Rush” and a 28-minute “Love & Only Love.” It’s loud, electric and intimate, all at once.

And, yes, the featured creatures give it a surreal edge. It’s slightly crazed. It’s also great.

1) Neil Young & Promise of the Real – “Like an Inca.” A great version of the classic Trans-era song, which isn’t on Earth (though well could’ve been), performed in Paris on June 23, 2016.


2) Rylie Bourne – “Mary Ann.” If you were to ask me what my favorite album is at the moment, it wouldn’t be Neil’s Earth (I’ve only had a day with it), but Rylie Bourne’s self-titled debut. It was released in late 2015, though I wasn’t aware of it at the time; if I had, it easily would’ve been one of my favorites of the year. It’s that good. In short: It’s country music the way country music should be, of the soul and heart. It conjures the Carter Family, Merle Haggard and the outlaw sound. At times, it’s light; more often, however, it’s dark and cathartic – think Hank Jr.’s Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound (minus the orneriness). “Mary Ann” echoes Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”

In years (decades?) past, she easily would’ve found a home on WXPN, Philadelphia’s listener-supported radio station. Back in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, when they played less of the old and more of the new, they helped break quite a few of the classic Americana-country acts, including Mary Chapin Carpenter, Nanci Griffith, the Jayhawks and Lucinda Williams, as well as the post-prison Steve Earle. (I actually tweeted the Morning Show about Rylie, and they said they’d check her out. Fingers crossed they do.)

3) Rylie Bourne – “Foolin’ Myself.” Another thing that I like about the album: It simultaneously honors and stretches country conventions. Forget tear-in-my-beer laments; here’s a vodka-in-a-water-bottle alcoholic’s tale. The protagonist is both self-aware and in denial; and will break your heart.


4) Victoria Reed – “Nothing to Lose.” Here’s another favorite new artist of mine. The daughter of Alto Reed, sax player for Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band, she mines a folksy pop sound that’s utterly intoxicating. Her debut album, Chariot, was released earlier this year. I’d love to say I discovered it on my own, but it was her dad – who I follow on Facebook – that pointed the way. (She’s someone else who should be getting airplay on XPN.)

5) Victoria Reed – “Make It Easy.” Here’s another taste:

“Live music is better/bumper stickers should be issued” – so says the bard, Neil Young, on “Union Man” (from Hawks & Doves).

Sad to say, the past year hasn’t been filled with many shows – far fewer, in fact, than in years past. Still, I was lucky to witness some memorable performances. (To read my reviews of the selected shows, click on the artists’ names.)

1) Neil Young & Promise of the Real @ Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, N.J., 7/16/15.

2) Paul McCartney @ the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, 6/21/2015

3) Melody Gardot @ the Merriam Theater in Philadelphia, 10/9/15.

4) Rumer @ the World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, 4/7/15

5) Stephen Stills @ the Keswick Theatre, 7/9/15

And one bonus:

6) First Aid Kit @ XPoNential Music Festival at Wiggins Park in Camden, 7/25/15


Epic. That’s the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of last’s night Neil Young concert at the Susquehanna Banks Center in Camden, N.J. , which is across the Delaware River from Philly. The second? Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real, who accompanied Neil, are the real deal. They rock like a young Crazy Horse.

Neil sauntered onto stage at about 8:45pm, after two farmers’ daughters had sprinkled and planted seeds around the stage. (At least, from my distant seat, that’s what it appeared they were doing.) He didn’t waste any time, either, sitting at the piano and opening with the classic “After the Gold Rush.”

He sang “Long May You Run” and a few sing-alongs from Harvest…

… before closing the solo portion of the night with a heartfelt “Mother Earth.” Then, Promise of the Real joined him – and, wow. Just wow. They’re a perfect fit with and foil for Neil. Here they are with another Harvest classic, “Out on the Weekend.”

And here they are with “Words.”

The piece de resistance? A near-20 minute “Down by the River.”

I should mention, the new songs flowed perfectly with the old; and the audience, by and large, got into them. It helps, I think, that his anti-GMO/anti-corporate/pro-ordinary people stance is cloaked with rough and ragged Crazy Horse-like chords. Here’s one of my favorites from The Monsanto Years, “A New Day for Love.”

And, after being on stage for two hours and 45 minutes, Neil kicked off the two-song encore with “Cortez the Killer”…

A raucous “Cinnamon Girl” closed the show, which ended – by my clock – at exactly 11:58pm.

Overall, the 28-song-strong set was extraordinary. Songs from Everybody Knows This Is NowhereHarvest and Harvest Moon; a Buffalo Springfield gem (“Flying on the Ground is Wrong”); and guitar jams that were absolute wonders to behold.

The setlist:

After the Gold Rush
Heart of Gold
Long May You Run
Old Man
Mother Earth
Hold Back the Tears
Out on the Weekend
Unknown Legend
Peace of Mind
From Hank to Hendrix
Harvest Moon
Wolf Moon
Flying on the Ground Is Wrong
Walk On
Bad Fog of Loneliness
A Rock Star Bucks a Coffee Shop
People Want to Hear About Love
A New Day for Love
Down by the River
Workin’ Man
Big Box
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Monsanto Years
If I Don’t Know
Love and Only Love
Cortez the Killer**
Cinnamon Girl**

(** = encore)