As a youthful frontman with the Kinks, Ray Davies admired America – and, more particularly, its rootsy music – from afar. His new album arrives after a lengthy period living in the U.S. and, as such, presents a far more complex vision. The new album, Americana, is preceded by a song recorded with the Jayhawks called “Poetry” which offers an unflinching assessment of the country’s materialism.
Americana, which was co-produced with Guy Massey and John Jackson, is due on April 21. The Jayhawks’ Karen Grotberg also appears on the song “Message From the Road.” A second volume to Americana will reportedly be a released later this year. The inspiration for Americana grew out of Davies’ autobiography of the same name, but it didn’t come easy. He first mentioned this project more than three years ago. Along the way, Davies told Mojo that it became “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.”
In an inventive twist, new songs are interspersed on Americana with a series of spoken-word passages from the memoir. “My catchphrase right now is ‘feel free to fail,’” Davies told Billboard. “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.”
Davies’ most recent new solo project was 2008’s Working Man’s Cafe, while the Kinks haven’t released a collection of new material since To the Bone in 1994. Brother Dave Davies, a fellow co-founder of the Kinks, has been more active: He issued a pair of albums in 2013 and 2014, I Will Be Me and Rippin’ Up Time, respectively.
Ray Davies, ‘Americana’ Track Listing
“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”