New Album Pick: Dave Davies & Russ Davies – Open Road

Ray Davies and Dave Davies have both been dropping hints recently that they may soon be collaborating on some music together, which would be great news for music fans and even better news for Davies family unity. It’s always nice when siblings can reconcile and reunite without resorting to murder or mayhem.

Dave Davies’ main beef has always been about a lack of recognition and respect from his big brother, so let’s hope maybe Ray has come around a bit on that. But this will surely thicken the plot: Dave Davies has just released a very good album which I think is at least as good as Ray Davies’ recent work. If Dave was owed respect before, he deserves even more after this album.

Open Road is a collaboration between Dave Davies and his son Russell, who is an EDM producer and DJ working under the alias Abakus. Clearly Dave works best with blood relatives. I was surprised to discover this was the third collaboration between father and son, the first one way back in 1998 was all-electronica with a chill vibe like Peter Gabriel, and then in 2010 they worked together on an ambient album.

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But on Open Road the decision was made to work more towards Dave’s strengths, which are his songwriting, his singing and his guitar playing. So we’ve got some great songs where the Kinks pedigree is obvious, and we’ve got some acoustic instruments, and we’ve got some some ripping Dave Davies electric riffs. You want to talk songwriting, check out the first single “Path Is Long”, a really beautiful meditation on making the most of who we are and what we’ve got.

Russ Davies’ production and arrangements make the crowning touch on this album, he turns what would have been good record into a very good record. He makes his father sound contemporary and relevant and creative and vibrant, which is all any artist can hope for. Their extensive experience working together makes a big difference, there is an obvious sympatico between them that you can hear. In a statement Russ said that

Working with Dave is a fluid process and we both seem to share some kind of psychic connection and understanding of how the song is forming and where we want it to go. With this album I really had the desire to produce this record in the most organic way I could, and try to capture some of the old rock spirit whilst bringing some new energy to the table. I feel we’ve created an honest and natural sound, un-perfectionist and rough at the edges, but with plenty of character and vibe – we are both proud of how the record turned out.

It’s interesting that Ray Davies has a new album coming out on April 21. It sure looks like the Davies brothers are at a creative and productive peak the likes of which we haven’t seen since the 1970s. A collaboration between the two men at this point raises the possibility of some very spectacular results, especially if Ray’s nephew Russ is invited to participate too. Let’s hope it happens.


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