‘Daisy Jones & The Six’ Review: Riley Keough Is Spectacular in Prime Video’s ’70s Rock Band Series

The limited series based on the novel of the same name stars Keough and Sam Claflin as incendiary lovers and collaborators on the road to stardom

Riley Keough and Sam Clafflin in a still from "Daisy Jones & the Six."

In 1978, the Kinks sang: “He just spends his life, living in a rock ‘n’ roll fantasy; He just spends his life, living on the edge of reality.” This mid-1970s sentiment of California dreamin’ foregrounds a young woman with that same impossible, crazy and ultimately disenchanting dream — singer, songwriter, flame-haired trainwreck Daisy Jones played by the perfectly cast firecracker Riley Keough, Elvis’ granddaughter, in Amazon Prime Video’s “Daisy Jones & the Six.”

It’s part the familiar saga of the rise and splatter of a band like “Fleetwood Mac,” circa the album “Rumours:” the drugs, the demons and the outsized desires of its members. And then, driven by a spectacular performance by Keough, it’s about the power of finding one’s voice and hoping the journey liberates rather than destroys the seeker.

Based on Taylor Jenkins Reid’s New York Times bestseller, a chick lit book beloved by Reese Witherspoon (who is also an executive producer), the ten-part limited series follows the novel’s oral history format. There are interviews with all the participants, who are presumably older and wiser as they reflect on the wild ’70s when the Sunset Strip and clubs like The Troubadour and The Whiskey ruled, and what would become classic rock was at its apex before the rise of disco and the thrashing of punk.

Daisy Jones is a rich Angeleno noodling on songs and struggling to find her self-worth in the shadow of a crappy mother-daughter relationship. She’s prone to wearing short-shorts and floaty tunics (it’s impossible not to think of Stevie Nicks in all her breathy seductive hippiness). Given that twisted family dynamic, she mistrusts everyone — most of all herself. When record producer Teddy Price (Tom Wright) introduces her to the Pittsburgh brothers’ band The Six, and their seductive yet tyrannical older-bro/lead singer Billy Dunne (“The Hunger Games’” Sam Claflin, riveting both in anger and amorous glances), they make beautiful music together.

In fact, Daisy and Billy make each other better musicians. Their incendiary collaboration proves greater than the sum of its parts. But, on a personal level, they go together like cocaine and catastrophe.

It doesn’t help that Billy has a strong, supportive wife, Camila (liquid-eyed, drop-dead gorgeous model-actress Camila Morrone) and a daughter. In a series crammed with destabilizing love triangles, this one is the messiest. As Billy and Daisy write songs together, and she pushes him to an emotional honesty his work lacked previously, they seethe and seduce and implode. Their unstable dynamic plays out in the recording studio and before live audiences. Their attraction drives their duets — and drives them, and those dependent on them, bonkers.

Among the show’s great strengths is the hand of executive producer James Ponsoldt, who also helms the first five episodes. The film director of Shailene Woodley’s “The Spectacular Now” and the Sundance hit “Smashed,” about an alcoholic kindergarten teacher played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, is at the top of his TV game. He’s shown his prowess creating stories with complicated yet relatable characters seeking the light and pulled back by the dark. And he’s clearly no newcomer to addiction narratives. Ponsoldt’s sensitive, unsparing creation of characters remains intimate, even as the action is as propulsive as a Neil Peart drum solo.

What would a band story be without an ensemble — and this one sings. Nabiya Be captivates as Daisy’s disco pioneer bff, Simone; plus Suki Waterhouse as the independent-minded keyboardist; bandmates Will Harrison, Josh Whitehouse and Sebastian Chacon; and Timothy Olyphant as the herder-of-cats tour manager. Ayesha Harris also makes tracks as Simone’s partner in a subplot that echoes the Whitney Houston-Robyn Crawford relationship but delivers a happier ending for the gay couple. It’s a power ensemble bound to court SAG 2024.

The fictional band performs some catchy anthems. Amazon is producing a full album entitled “Aurora,” set to drop simultaneously with songs written by famous collaborators Phoebe Bridgers, Madison Cunningham, Jackson Brown and Marcus Mumford and performed by Keough and Claflin. Though not all the tunes match the vitality of the classic rock soundtrack that includes tunes by Heart, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and many more, the vibe of souls searching for love and ecstasy in a 1970s rock ‘n’ roll fantasy comes through.

“Daisy Jones & the Six” is a series you can dance to — and while the steps aren’t new to anyone who’s watched MTV’s docuseries “Behind the Music,” the chemistry between Keough and Claflin endures and the show lands with an emotional punch.

“Daisy Jones & the Six” premieres Friday, March 3, on Prime Video.