Ray Davies: Our Country—Americana Act II
As the Kinks’ chief songwriter, singer/ guitarist Ray Davies wrote some of the most vivid and insightful portraits of British life ever created, penning tunes such as “Well Respected Man,” “Waterloo Sunset” and “The Village Green Preservation Society.” He’s even been knighted. But Davies has also been fascinated by America since childhood, has spent much time traveling the country—and, along with the Kinks, was also banned from performing in it—and has written of the culture in both song and prose. His 2013 book Americana detailed his relationship with the U.S.A., and was followed in 2017 by the album of the same title. Now there’s a sequel to bring the story up to date. Our Country opens with the title track, a familiar immigrants’ tale: “Gone is the land I used to know so well,” the narrator laments as he revisits his old stomping grounds. From there, it unfolds, with Davies bridging his new songs with spoken-word segments that put context to the music. The first of those interludes, “The Invaders,” recalls the arrival of rock-and-roll and Davies’ own role in putting his homeland on the rock map; then came stardom and its attendant pros and cons. There’s the road, the groupies, the tedium and the triumphs. There’s tragedy too: New Orleans looms large here, the city where, in 2004, Davies was shot while attempting to thwart a mugging. As a companion piece to the book, Our Country , as is true of its predecessor, contains some beautifully framed storytelling. However, ambitious and honest as the album is, it’s also highly forgettable.