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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Tony Hil­lier

Amer­i­cana Ray Davies Legacy/Sony Mem­o­ries of rock days of yore, black-and-white cow­boy movies, in­ter­minable high­ways and other vi­gnettes from the pages of his 2013 mem­oir merge with vin­tage riffs and am­biva­lent feel­ings about Amer­ica in Ray Davies’ first al­bum in a decade. Even if his new songs fail to match the acu­ity of 1960s’ Kinks-era satires on English so­ci­ety such as Sunny Af­ter­noon and Ded­i­cated Fol­lower of Fash­ion, there’s no short­age of the pithy lines that are his stock-in-trade. Record­ing Amer­i­cana in a Lon­don stu­dio founded by his old band has seem­ingly also trig­gered the re­gur­gi­ta­tion of clas­sic Kinks hooks (from All Day and All of the Night and their cover of Louie Louie) in I’ve Heard That Beat Be­fore and The Great High­way. The lat­ter con­tains some of his sharpest prose: “Bright eyes like wish­ing wells / In­sta­matic kiss and tell / Op­ti­mistic self-be­lief / Col­lege girls with per­fect teeth.” Another song pre­ceded by a short nar­ra­tion from Davies’ mem­oir har­nesses the ti­tle of the track in a poignant sim­ile: “Rock ‘n’ roll cow­boys on the ol’ wagon train / You had your time but it won’t come again.” Quirky phras­ing and a Nashville ca­dence power Po­etry, another stand­out. If the singer strains to reach high notes here and there, his ac­com­pa­nists — vet­eran Amer­i­can alt­coun­try rock­ers the Jay­hawks — step for­ward with strong vo­cal back-up, most no­tably in Mes­sage from the Road, a sotto voce and tune­ful duet with the band’s Karen Grot­berg, and in the bluesy rocker A Place in Your Heart.

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