Cleopatra [Release date 04.06.13]
Partly autobiographical and partly fictive imagery but always routed in a spiritual feel, Dave Davies’s ‘I Will Be Me’ is an uneven but ultimately enjoyable album. He veers from the past – referencing his riff driven contribution to The Kinks on ‘Little Green Amp’ – and teeters on the brink of the future in the company of The Jayhawks and Beatlesque bv’s, on the choral ‘Remember The Future’. Ultimately he settles for self affirmation on the title track, the brackets of which provide him with the album title.
Dave Davies has for long claimed that he was a frustrated songwriter in The Kinks. But on the evidence of his sporadic solo output and the inconsistency of this album it seems to be only partly true. He certainly has inspired moments, as he works his way through a musical diverse set.
He’s also invited a suitable array of different guests from punk rockers Anti-Flag and stoner rock band Dead Meadow, to Brit blues rockers the Oli Brown Band and Psychedelic folky Gina X, with whom he shares the lead vocal on ‘When I First Saw You’. There’s even room for the legendary session guitarist Chris Spedding on the closing title track.
Dave’s best moments come when he’s less animated and swaps his bluster and distorted riffs for a subtle percussive blend of sonorous tones and layered melody on the violin led ‘The Healing Boy’, which is carried by Jonathan Lea’s electric sitar. Then there’s the reflective ‘Midnight In L.A.’, his homage to Los Angeles which telling finishes with the wistful line: ‘London Town is oh so far away’. Both tracks benefit from being played by his regular tour band The Jigsaw Seen.
The other meditative track is less successful, as some cringe worthy and faux spiritual lyrics hampers the ambient ‘Walker Through The Worlds’. It’s not that you don’t necessarily buy into his spiritual quest, it’s just the combination of corny lyrics and his discovery of the potential of synths, contribute to the kind of a dirgy mix that sounds like an Eno cast off from the early 70’s.
At it’s worst, tracks like ‘Energy Fields’ lose their way because of an indifferent vocal and an overblown concept, while the futuristic ‘In The Mainframe’ suffers from a another dirgy drone and the slide led ‘Cote Du Rhone (I Will Be Me)’ is a kitchen sink and all rocker, that in spite of a decent observational narrative is weighed down by its own angst.
The ‘Actress’ on the other hand, could have been penned by his brother Ray, and the quirky, riff driven ‘Erotic Neurotic’, has an essential English feel and is worthy of inclusion in The Kinks song writing cannon. In the end the album just about balances it self out.
On the one hand Dave is an unreconstructed rocker with plenty to say and on the other hand he’s on a introspective spiritual quest. And if the two never quite gel, then at the very least ‘I Will Be Me’ is a spirited comeback by one of the most influential guitarist of the 60’s. At the end of the album he sings: ‘You can be anything you want’ and this album certain bears testament to that ambition. ***(3/5)
Review by Pete Feenstra
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Each week David Randall presents ‘New to GRTR!’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, with the emphasis on independent artists and labels. During December he replays favourite tracks including power plays featured during the year. This show covers the period January-March and was first broadcast on 1 December 2019.
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