Hurple Hoopla

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Ray Davies: Other People's Lives

The first new material written by former Kinks frontman since 1997's American release of The Kinks "To The Bone" is, honestly, years overdue. Truth be told, 8 years with no output slipped by quietly. The 2 new songs on "To The Bone" were decent ("To The Bone" and "Animal"), but nothing to be overly excited about. And, since those two tracks represented the last I'd heard from Davies' pen, it's what one could expect to hear on the new album, too.

But, I couldn't be further off the mark.

I love this new album!

From start to finish "Other People's Lives" is chock-full of what Ray Davies does best, writing ditties which examine a little slice of another's life, as seen through his eyes. Wonderful. And, even better, the tracks emotional range swings from whimsical and poignant ("Next Door Neighbor") to flat-out pissed-off ("Stand Up Comic"). Ray Davies excels at both approaches, his only weakness as a songwriter is when he tries to incorporate politics, which, thankfully, is completely missing from this album. Although, nobody could blame him if he had, after being a victim of random street-crime (stabbed by a mugger) and victim of the combination of natural disaster and government failure that was Katrina (Davies has been a resident of New Orleans for a decade). Neither topic is addressed, although he has promised a portion of the profits from this album to various New Orleans charities.

Ray Davies has not been on the musical radar for quite awhile. After the disappointment of his last songwriting efforts, I didn't expect much this time around. He greatly exceeded those expectations. I'm glad he's back. I've missed him, and didn't even realize it until I heard this recording.


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