A love story, city blues, and a little bit of weed—it’s a tried-and-true songwriting formula many have followed, but for Lukas Nelson it comes second nature. Still, Nelson manages to wrangle these tropes—made mainstream by his father—into something fresh on “Just Outside of Austin,” which premieres below.
The first moments of the song are an aural double-take. Nelson carries much of his father’s nasally affect—not to mention Aunt Bobbi’s intro on the keys—but as the song winds its way to the chorus, he opens up into a falsetto sweetness that sounds more Nilsson than Nelson. And though the themes and conversational tones of the song could have easily found their way onto Phases and Stages, the younger Nelson’s songwriting embraces its sentimentality more wholly.
The nimble, dancing fretwork, too, sounds familiar at first blush. But it’s clear when Willie lays down a brief solo toward the end of the song that Lukas has managed to carve out his own style—abandoning the blues-inspired licks for elevated country pop. It’s the kind of dreamy track that makes you want to grab someone’s hand, stare at a country sky, and, well, maybe add a few clouds of your own. His daddy must be proud.
This track appears on Lukas Nelson & the Promise of the Real, out August 25.