Regardless of whatever name the granddaughter of Willie Nelson and her bandmates came up with, anyone looking to see them perform will probably resort to suggesting, “Let’s go see the band Willie Nelson’s granddaughter is in.” By calling themselves the Raelyn Nelson Band, they get right to the point. They are heavily influenced by the outlaw country music Willie Nelson pioneered while weaving in garage-band rock to set them apart. As Willie takes on the role of a wise old-timer passing along knowledge, the Raelyn Nelson Band arrives on the scene ready to knock back a few drinks with the crowd.
The opening track of their debut album, Don’t, leans into everything Nelson fans can expect from the family name. In a lively honky-tonk rundown, Raelyn sings a promo for two of America’s favorite forms of self-medication, “Weed and Whiskey.” The rebel side of the band calls out the legal remedies the government pushes on people by singing, “All those pills can’t cure my ills or fix me.” It is rowdy, lighthearted, and a good way to get people on their feet. It is music to listen to when getting ready to go out and a helpful way to put a week of stress behind you. While singing about pot does not carry the counter-culture weight it used to, it serves as a good reminder that now would be a good time to toke up.
Songs from the album run the gambit of country bases including heartbreak, long drives, getting back up after falling on your face, and the great state of Texas. These country touchstones are like comfort food to a country fan looking for relatable songs that are easy to get behind. The Raelyn Nelson Band’s style weaves together country, rock, and punk without landing on one distinctive sound that would distinguish them from other rising country bands. As an album, it is a collection of singles that listeners can pick and choose between rather than a curated experience that needs to be listened to in order.
Anyone who goes and sees the Raelyn Nelson Band live is bound to have a good time. They are fun-loving and welcoming with the talent and range to keep crowds happy. Don’t will be released on Friday, November 8th. Roll up a few joints and tell your friends to bring some whiskey (the affordable kind that will be empty by morning), as the album is best heard in the company of others.