Title - 'Our Country: Americana Act II'
Artist - Ray Davies
For those not in the know, Sir Raymond Douglas Davies, CBE is an English singer, songwriter and musician.
Indeed, furthermore to that, and as I'm sure you will all know yourselves anyway, but for those uninitiated, he was the lead singer, rhythm guitarist and main songwriter for the Kinks; which he led with his younger brother, Dave.
He has also acted, directed and produced shows for theatre and television and is often referred to as "the godfather of Britpop". After the dissolution of the Kinks in 1996, Davies embarked on a very highly successful solo career.
The continuing story of the Kinks co-founder's journeys through America, as depicted in his 2013 memoir Americana and 2017's album of the same name, Our Country: Americana Act II is out June 29th via Sony Legacy Recordings.
A concept album borne from Davies' vision of America, of how it shaped him and how he himself evolved through the years, much like its predecessor, the album was recorded at the legendary Konk Studios in London with guitarist Bill Shanley and The Jayhawks once again serving as Davies' backing band.
1. 'Our Country'
2. 'The Invaders' (spoken word)
3. 'Back In The Day'
4. 'Oklahoma U.S.A.'
5. 'Bringing Up Baby'
6. 'The Getaway'
7. 'The Take'
8. 'We Will Get There'
9. 'The Real World'
10. 'A Street Called Hope'
11. 'The Empty Room'
12. 'Calling Home'
13. 'Louisiana Sky'
14. 'March Of The Zombies'
15. 'The Big Weird'
16. 'Tony And Bob'
17. 'The Big Guy'
19. 'Muswell Kills'
Americana (Act I) was Ray Davies' first new album in 10 years and boy, was it a doozy! As is this second act, trust me. The lyrics and spoken word moments are all largely derived from his own 2013 memoir of the same name and based on Ray's subsequent trips, stays and extensive travels in the U.S.
The songs are, for the most part, variations on the theme of America's vastness; natural beauty; mythologies; seductive facets of its culture, tending to represent one's aspirations and dreams of hope vs. the opposite of the American dream: in the form of doubts, disillusionment, materialism run amok, fraudulent deals, poverty and powerlessness.
There are terrific tunes and remarkable moments throughout Ray's diverse-sounding Our Country: Americana Act II album, but to get to know that phrase a little better, allow me to just slip this in here: The Americana genre, by definition, comprises an array of traditional (but evolving) American musical styles, generally in hybrid form, such as alt-country country-rock, folk-rock, country-folk and southern country-soul.
In the case of this Americana, the poetic singer-songwriter rock side of the hybrid equation carries a bit more weight than the others. In fact, and in total truth, and I am NOT exaggerating when I say that not only is Our Country: Americana Act II the best album of Ray Davies' solo career, but it may well be the best solo album of the entire British Invasion!
There is no question that Ray has found ample inspiration in America, twice now and one assumes, could easily follow this up with subsequent Acts; and with his backing band - the superlative and highly adaptable Jayhawks - backing him at every musical turn, you wouldn't bet against it.
Ray Davies @ Facebook!
CD Purchase Link