Ray Davies 

Other People's Lives

With British Invasion outfit the Kinks, Ray Davies drew heavily from raucous rock and English folk, earning his "Godfather of Britpop" title. For his first-ever solo LP Other People's Lives, that sound is further informed by his experiences living stateside, even adding dollops of distinctly American alt-country. The sonic progression isn't too traumatic, though, and lyrically the longtime social critic is at his most upbeat: Potentially depressive tunes like "Things Are Gonna Change (The Morning After)" (about the futility of resolutions) and "Creatures of Little Faith" (about the absence of trust in relationships) give way to the unwavering optimism of lines like All we need is a little bit of faith. But if Davies verges on saccharine sentiment with the organ- and horn-heavy "Thanksgiving Day" -- celebrating America's day of unity -- he tempers it with "Is There Life After Breakfast?," wherein he admonishes depressives to remain blissfully ignorant with pills and tea. Thankfully, Ray hasn't lost a spot of that trademark British sarcasm.

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