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Music Ray Davies

Published on August 10th, 2018 | by voxx

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Ray Davies – Our Country: Americana Act II

The Kinks’ leader’s musical eulogy to America continues…

On top of getting knighted last year, Ray Davies is having a productive decade, working on the theme of Americana. In 2013, he published a book by that name, recounting his experiences Stateside. After getting banned from touring there with The Kinks in the ‘60s, his band were a stadium-sized success in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and Davies later moved to New Orleans until he got shot in the leg during a mugging in 2004. Parallel to the memoir, he produced a splurge of new music, the first batch collated on last year’s surprisingly great Americana.

Act II comes carefully woven together by narrative from the singer, who, soon to turn 74, warms to the role like a grandad wheeling out war stories. The first few songs amusingly romanticise the British Invasion’s assault on the US in affectionately satirical genre pieces which render Nashville country and western (‘Our Country’), ‘50s doo wop (‘Back In The Day’) and even a bit of martial drumming (‘The Invaders’).

Covering Davies’s middle career, ‘The Take’, meanwhile, delivers a memorable portrait of an unstoppable turbo-groupie. But Our Country really gets going once the author arrives in New Orleans. Hazy evocations such as ‘Louisiana Sky’ give way to some blaring – and rollickingly comic – tracks about his shooting, including ‘The Big Guy’, where he wishes he’d kept employing a minder to keep him out of trouble.

With backing from The Jayhawks, as well as his UK band, providing a rich backdrop of rootsy genre-hopping, it’s a hugely entertaining album. A musical travelogue whose breadth of styles fits the vast nation it eulogises.

- By Jake White


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