Design By Humans
Published On: Tue, Aug 21st, 2018

Ray Davies – Our Country: Americana Act II

Ray Davies
Our Country: Americana Act II
(Sony Legacy)

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As he chronicled in his 2013 memoir, Americana: The Kinks, the Riff, the Road: The Story, and sang about in 2017’s Americana, Kinks front man Ray Davies continues the story of America and its influence on his life and career on his latest solo release, Our Country: Americana Act II.

From the opening title track and its effective gospel, to “The Invaders,” a wry tune seeing Davies comparing himself (as an Englishman) with other American invaders like movie monsters like “The Blob.” The lush country backing of the best tune here, “Oklahoma,” sees Davies taking a new stab at old an Kinks’ song, “Oklahoma U.S.A.” We get loud and clear how great a songwriter/story teller Ray Davies is and will always be. With The Jayhawks backing up here as they did on the first album of this concept, he can’t lose with musicianship to be sure.

The problem is Ray Davies seemingly mining autobiographical material he has now dipped into quite a bit of late. Also, the narration during lots of the tunes, Davies directly ‘speaking’ to the listener, is often cringe inducing.

For me it’s the end of Our Country: Americana Act II that works best. “March of Zombies” is low blues, the pretty acoustic ode with its pedal steel effects “Epilogue” wraps things up and Davies ends it all by ‘revisiting’ his wild Kink ways on the heaviest rocker, a tune of promised revenge, “Muswell Kills.”

The rumor is that The Kinks are “reforming” to produce a new album. Maybe we will get more variety from Davies writing for a full band effort than we do on this solo album.

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Ray Davies – Our Country: Americana Act II