Reportedly the first of two volumes to be released this year, Americana is the first solo album from Ray Davies in nearly decade. It is also a companion of sorts to his autobiography of the same name and it certainly has a nostalgic feel to it – both geographically and culturally – and a predominantly American flavour.
Working with The Jayhawks Davies sings of long drives coast to coast, older musicians as rock ’n’ roll cowboys, seedy motel rooms and the beaches of California. Within that framework he deals with the personal – long distance relationships – and the creative. With the latter he uses spoken word to talk about songwriting, in this case referencing ‘All Day And All Of The Night’ and on ‘Message From The Road’ he reminisces about talking with Alex Chilton about songwriting and the way it cheats time and makes you feel safe – in a changing world.
The Jayhawks prove to be the perfect foil for Davies, carving out rough-edged rock ’n’ roll, parched alt-country and jazz and folk-tinged excursions. It makes for a diverse album, allowing Davies to stretch out, casting an eye back over his long and storied career. It’s a personal record and without his iconic character studies it’s the closest we’ve got to Davies in a long time.