wed 26/04/2017

CD: Ray Davies - Americana | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Ray Davies - Americana

CD: Ray Davies - Americana

A love letter to the USA by the most English of songwriters

Rock 'n' roll cowboys just play on

From Muswell Hillbilly to Beverly Hillbilly, Ray Davies – Sir Ray – has long been infatuated with America and it must have been a great disappointment when the Kinks were banned from touring there in the mid-1960s. Then in the 1970s and Eighties they were reborn as a stadium rock band, criss-crossing the States and losing their audience back home.

These days, Davies is a much-loved figure, drawing crowds at venues large and small, the power chords of those Sixties anthems recognisable to all and his quiet observational songs cheered to the echo. The centrality of the Kinks to popular music history is beyond question.

Americana is Davies’ first solo outing in nine years, a love letter to the Union by this most English of songwriters. A strange time to be writing it perhaps, but once you’ve got the bug it’s hard to break free. “I wannna make my home/where the buffalo roam”, he sings in the title track, an allusion to the folk song he’d have learned as a 1950s schoolboy. All “silver screen”, “wild west heroes”, “Kentucky moon”, “Montana sky” – the vision is a romantic one. But in “The Deal”, he casts a more jaundiced eye: “Today I’m a bullshit millionaire… better than I was in dreary Angleterre… full of self-belief…”.

Like the show of the same name which Davies toured a couple of years back, itself based on Americana the Memoir, Americana the album is a tad over-long and sometimes out of tune but, with backing by the Jayhawks, it is music with heart. Like Sir Ray, it is beguiling, the carefully wrought lyrics of an at-times weary septuagenarian drawing you in. The music itself is referential, folk-rocky here, anthemic there; a touch of Lou Reed and Dylan, of Bryan Ferry; a soft-shoe shuffle, a hint of Spector; and of course a fair ol' helping of the Kinks.

“Rock ‘n’ roll cowboys where do you go now?” Davies asks in “Silent Movie”. Why, they play on and live to fight another day.

The carefully wrought lyrics of an at-times weary septuagenarian draw you in

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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