Americana

Ray Davies

Ray Davies wants to “make his home where the buffalo roam” on 2017 solo release Americana. Taking a cue from his book (and film) of the same name, this 15-song collection from The Kinks leader sees the quintessential English pop singer and songwriter exploring his feelings, past and present, of his experience in the U.S.

The chronology here bounces from Davies’ childhood dreams of America, to wanting to make it big there with his “baby brother,” to his living in his adopted hometown of New Orleans. Opening with a little Kinks history in the country-influenced title track (where Davies drops the cockney so well you would be hard pressed to know if it was him singing), to “Message from the Road,” a pretty lament filled out by acoustic, piano and Davies’ duet with Jayhawks keyboardist Karen Grotberg (the rest of the Jayhawks appear on the record as well), to the cowboy ballad of “Rock ‘N’ Roll Cowboys,” a eulogy for rock stars passed with some heavy riffing, Davies makes us feel as if we are driving across the continental United States with him, looking out on windblown landscapes.

“Change For Change,” the tune that sounds most unlike the others, features a heavy stomp percussion backing, acoustic guitar and Davies’ touching on some political introspection. And “The Man Upstairs” opens with him singing a few lines of “All Day And All Of The Night,” and talking out how he wrote the next tune, the 50s jazz slip-and-jiver “I’ve Heard That Beat Before.” Americana, Davies first solo album in 10 years, provides lots of color in the musicians’ performances, while showcasing the singer’s penchant for crafting songs that touch the heart and tingle the ears.

~ Ralph Greco. Jr.

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