Americana presents itself as Ray Davies’ late-flowering masterwork, exploring his lifelong love-hate relationship with the US, with the Jayhawks as his backing band. Strip away this biography, though, and these songs shrivel like raisins. The Deal is a young man’s fantasy of groovy hotels and suntans that lumbers like a first-timer’s attempt. The weedy Good Time Gals sees a wife kindly shrugging away her husband’s Stateside shagabouts. Sha-la-las and bluesy riffs, shoehorned in to sound reflective, just sound naff. There are a few moving moments: The Great Highway’s girl with “bright eyes like wishing wells” reminding you of Davies’ lyrical delicacy, plus Silent Movie’s spoken-word eulogy to Big Star’s Alex Chilton (Chilton told Davies a good song “cheats time and makes you feel safe”). The general mood, though, is one of an Alan Partridge-presented country happy hour, unsuitable all of the day and all of the night.
Jude Rogers is a journalist, interviewer, arts critic and broadcaster.