Working Man's Café (New West)
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Feb. 29, 2008
Ray DaviesWorking Man's Café (New West)
As game as Other People's Lives seesawed, Ray Davies' 2006 solo debut cranked up ancient machinery sure to warm up slowly. Co-produced by Ray Kennedy in Nashville, Working Man's Café wipes up the studio sheen of its predecessor with a comfortable roots groove that Davies' Kinks helped perfect in the early-1970s. Opener "Vietnam Cowboys" traverses 40 years of Brit-rock on global industry; the title cut blue collars the Kinks' Village Green Preservation Society; and harmonies on "Morphine Song" puree Dave Davies. "You're Asking Me" answers quintessentially Ray Davies: witty lyrical melodies crisscrossing his pastoral sigh and curmudgeonly growl. That's when Working Man's menu goes on auto pilot with clunkers ("Peace in Our Time"), unconvincing rockers ("No One Listen"), and halfhearted realizations ("The Voodoo Walk"). Davies' trademark softer delivery saves "Imaginary Man," but convincing vocalizations remain a major problem at the Café. Two steps forward, one step back.