Daisy Jones and The Six - First Look

Riley Keough, second from right, is Daisy Jones – pictured with her on-screen bandmates, from left, Suki Waterhouse, Will Harrison, Sebastian Chacon, Josh Whitehouse and Sam Claflin – in the rock-n-roll series ‘Daisy Jones and the Six.’

Yes, it feels like stunt casting. Let’s just put that out there.

Riley Keough is a talented actress, no question about it. But that’s beside the point. It’s inevitable, and to a certain degree understandable, that some will conclude that her lineage – as the granddaughter of Elvis Presley – factored into things when she was cast to play the lead in the rock ’n’ roll drama “Daisy Jones and the Six.”

After all, here’s the story of a fictional musician who ascends to the pinnacle of rock stardom, only to have her own foibles – and an appetite for pills – get in the way.

So it is to Keough’s immense credit that she transcends the family name in Amazon’s 10-episode series, slipping so easily into the lead role that even before the first episode is through, she stops being Lisa Marie’s kid and becomes Daisy.

And her Daisy is a force of nature.

Rock 'n' roll romance

Boasting an alluring blend of confidence, rebelliousness, glamour and vocal abilities – all swathed in a gossamer wardrobe that appears to have been borrowed from Stevie Nicks’ closet – she’s the lynchpin in what ends up being a hard-driving, fast-living rock ’n’ roll romance.

Clearly, the family lip isn’t all Keough has inherited. There’s prodigious talent in them there genes.

A thoroughly enjoyable song in the key of “Almost Famous” and 2018’s “A Star is Born,” “Daisy Jones and the Six” is both a salute to and faithful re-creation of America’s rock ’n’ roll past.

New Orleans fans might feel a twinge of disappointment the city doesn’t get more of a front-and-center role. Despite being filmed largely here, none of the series is set here, although if you look closely, you’ll catch glimpses of the Joy Theater (Episode 7), Lakefront Airport (E9), and the Roosevelt Hotel and the Saenger (both E10).

Sags in the middle?

Also, like many an aging rock star, it’s got something of a saggy midsection. After a rousing first few episodes – or “tracks,” as it playfully refers to them – episodes 5,6 and 7 play like soapy tangents, classic examples of a need for a little less conversation, a little more action.

But in its best moments, which far outweigh the lulls, “Daisy Jones” straight-up rocks, fueled by a robust classic-rock soundtrack enhanced by 24 original songs recorded by the series’ fictional band.

In fact, as good as Keough is, all of her co-stars deserve singling out. That starts with Sam Claflin, who plays Billy Dunne, the band’s moody creative force and former frontman – and the Linsey Buckingham to Keough’s Nicks. Filled with irritability and talent in equal measures, he’s forced to share the spotlight with Daisy once she arrives on the scene. The friction between the two quickly becomes palpable.

So does the sexual tension.

Backing them up are bandmates Sebastian Chacon on drums (and whose slow-motion transformation into a John Oates clone is one of the series’ most satisfying running punchlines); Suki Waterhouse on keyboards; Will Harrison on bass; and Josh Whitehouse on guitar.

More than just a band

They aren’t just a band, they’re a family – a recurring theme throughout the series – albeit a deeply dysfunctional one.

For those keeping count: Yes, that’s only five people backing Daisy, not six. The band sells the mathematical falsehood in its name as one of those silly little inside jokes rock bands love. In reality, though, there is indeed a sixth figure.

That would be Billy’s wife, Camilla (Camila Morrone), who, as an outsider looking in, convinces herself the heat between Billy and Daisy is just for show, just to draw the audience in.

Secretly, though, she has her doubts. For good reason, too.

The bulk of the series is presented in flashback, with the band’s members taking turns sharing their reflections on their rock journey 20 years hence. But Camilla, our fellow outsider, is the audience surrogate, the one from whose helpless vantage point we witness the band’s self-destruction.

Some of that is because of substance abuse. Some can be blamed on romantic entanglements. A lot of it is ego.

That’s rock-n-roll for you.

The door stays open

Admittedly, that’s also not a particularly original theme. But “Daisy Jones” is so well-produced and so accurately re-creates that late-’70s vibe – from the music to the spot-on costumes to the set decorations to universally solid performances – that it’s a ride well worth taking.

Technically, it’s being presented as a limited series, but, without giving anything away, it smartly leaves the door open for an encore.

That’s one rock ’n’ roll reunion I’d love to see.

Mike Scott can be reached at moviegoermike@gmail.com.