Other People's Lives
First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2006, Volume 13, #6
Written by John Metzger
The good news about Ray Davies’ solo debut Other People’s Lives is that the former front man for The Kinks finally has made his long overdue return to recording. Better still, he sounds more invigorated than he has in years. The bad news, however, is that he continues to struggle with transcending the towering legacy of his former band. On tracks such as Next Door Neighbour and Creatures of Little Faith, he adequately traverses familiar ground, while After the Fall, which finds Davies copping the vocal mannerisms of Mick Jagger, simply extends the give-and-take that frequently has occurred between The Kinks and the Rolling Stones. Elsewhere, he opts, oddly enough, to shimmy through a hodgepodge of his followers’ offerings — tossing bits of The Clash into Things Are Gonna Change (The Morning After), merging Screaming Trees with U2 on All She Wrote, and alluding to both Neil Young and David Bowie on The Getaway (Lonesome Train). Although the results are far from disastrous, many of Davies’ pointed lyrics and sturdy melodic structures are subverted by the cold detachment that is derived from the album’s Pro Tools-induced ambience of layered over-production. Subsequently, Other People’s Lives feels labored to the point where it fails to achieve the sort of cohesive identity necessary for launching the next triumphant chapter of his career.
Regardless, Davies’ character studies are as insightful as ever. Things Are Gonna Change (The Morning After) says as much about the daily struggles of existence as it does about addiction, and both the suburban tale Next Door Neighbour as well as the fractured relationship outlined on Creatures of Little Faith also function as psychological self-examinations. Because he blurs the line between fact and fiction, it is difficult to tell precisely where Davies’ story ends and those of his subjects begin. Nevertheless, one gets the distinct sense that, despite his best attempts at misdirection, these particular ruminations mirror many of his own experiences. This is precisely what makes Other People’s Lives, despite its flaws, resonate long after it has finished playing.
Of Further Interest...
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box