Ray Davies may be English but his upcoming album will be called ‘Americana’, and this should not come as a surprise for anybody as the Kinks have inspired American music as much as they have been inspired by it. A new album by Ray Davies has to be a special event, he recorded his last solo album, ‘Working Man’s Café’, almost a decade ago, while the Kinks haven’t released anything new since 1994.
Davies recently shared, via NPR, the first glimpse of his upcoming record, ‘Poetry’ a jangling-guitar-filled song with that charming Kinks delivery that always reminds me about a Wes Anderson movie. The song was recorded with Minesota’s favorites, The Jayhawks, which partly explains this half-happy half-melancholic vibe, while the song has a strong sing-along hook, as you would expect coming from such rock and roll first class heroes.
In a way, it is fascinating that Ray Davies, at 72, is still making new music that sounds so fresh while the lyrics touch at America’s obsession with corporation, capitalism and materialism: ‘I kneel down and say grace for the comforts the world bestows on me / And the great corporations providing our every need / And those big neon signs telling us what to eat / And every shop window goods are designed to please / Oh but I ask / Where is the poetry?’
We may expect more of this in the other songs, since NPR reports that the album was inspired from ‘Americana the memoir’, which was dealing with The Kinks’ ban from America in the ’60s and Ray’s move to the this same country later in life.
‘Americana’, which was co-produced with Guy Massey and John Jackson, will be released on April 21st , and if you are a Davies fan, you are in for a treat as a second volume will reportedly be a released later this year. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Davies had already mentioned this project 3 years ago, in an interview with Mojo, saying that this was ‘the biggest record project I’ve ever attempted. … It’s a real challenge. You adapt books into films and stage plays, but it’s very unusual to adapt a book into a record.’
The album also contains a series of spoken-word passages from his memoir, which may feel a bit odd, but Davies declared to Billboard he was ready to take some risks,:‘My catchphrase right now is ‘feel free to fail. Because you gotta try, even if you don’t succeed. At least you tried. That was my approach with the Kinks, and it paid off for the most part.”
Here is ‘Americana’ Tracklist:
‘Message From The Road’
‘A Place In Your Heart’
‘The Mystery Room’
‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Cowboys’
‘Change For Change’
‘The Man Upstairs’
‘I’ve Heard That Beat Before’
‘A Long Drive Home To Tarzana’
‘The Great Highway’
‘Wings Of Fantasy’
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I love the Jayhawks and I love Ray so it comes as no surprise that I like this song. Americana was intimately written by a man who is growing older in a world that continues to spiral while he holds fast to tradition while roaming the globe for a place to call home. Melancholic as Ray is, he leaves us with the smallest taste of hope which I can hear in this song. We may still be able to find bits of the poetry if we look hard enough in this age of the Donald, but it will be like mining for gold in a land frakked and plundered to its core. 🙁