Ray Davies “Our Country: Americana: Act II” (Sony, 2018)

‘Our Country’ is the follow up to Ray Davies’s first Americana record which was itself preceded by his like-named memoir. The two albums’ artwork are identical other than the original Stars & Stripes silhouette replaced by the Union Jack, and this album has a sense of saying goodbye to a country Davies had long called home. The history of the Kinks in the US was mixed, including the ban for half of the 60’s which blew their chances of joining the British Invasion. Considering that 2004 brought the New Orleans mugging where he was shot and nearly died, he could be forgiven for cynicism, but bathos is the main theme here, even ennui? Continue reading “Ray Davies “Our Country: Americana: Act II” (Sony, 2018)”

Ray Davies continues his journey through Americana

Photo: Dave Brolan

The quintessential English songwriter Ray Davies has had a long fascination with America, and the USA in particular.  His 2013 autobiography was entitled “Americana,” and he went on to release an album of the same name about the country that has fascinated him, that was the dangled jewel swung before the eyes of British bands with ambition and which, famously, didn’t let The Kinks tour for many years due to an incident on the Dick Clark show. Rowdy behaviour was blamed. Despite these tensions, or perhaps because of them, this fascination hasn’t diminished and Ray Davies will release a follow-up album ‘Our Country: Americana Act II’ at the end of June. Continue reading “Ray Davies continues his journey through Americana”

Ady Johnson “London Songs” (Independent, 2018)

It isn’t often that a record reminds the listener of Ray Davies, Mark Linkous and Tom Waits, as this one does. It has the lyrical sensibility of Davies, the clatter and oomph of Waits at his most extravagant and it has the shifts in tone, the juxtaposition of the abrasive and the beautiful as mastered by Sparklehorse. This eclecticism raises it above the usual level, enabling him to use bold swipes like the way the brass slashes across ‘Problems of Your Own’, changing the arc of the song. And how many are brave enough to use the bullfrog rumble of the tuba as Johnson does on ‘Put the World on Standby.’ Continue reading “Ady Johnson “London Songs” (Independent, 2018)”