Sunday, September 23, 2018

Reema and her reimagining of The Kinks "Sunny Afternoon" will surprise you

Reinterpreting a classic The Kinks song, namely the 1966 "Sunny Afternoon" is a daring thing to do. The Kinks are one of my favorite iconic bands ever and if you take the purest approach you just don't mess with their work. London native, Berlin based new folk artist Reema (Sarah Reema Kaydar) doesn't only mess with it but she messes with it so much so that it is not until the Ray Davies bouncy melodies (now crooned into long sustains) seeped into my brain that I recognized it. The first reaction was "what the...." but that was only a primal protective punch for a band who inspires me. The second reaction was much more interesting and real because I truly love Reema's inspired and minimalist interpretation and in some odd way this version brings out the lyrics in a different way, revealing them with new emotional connections. Davies' dour lyrics were poised like a honky-tonk drinking song / dark comedy. Reema's version pulls out the cheeky "wink", the self aware "life is not fair" tone (so fuck it) so what felt sort of happy in the original now sounds somber and what seemed like simple declarations now feel more like complex questions really. 

Reema's voice is incredibly controlled and beautiful. She has this in her D.N.A. I suppose. Her mother worked alongside Brian Eno and Roxy Music. Reema grew up around powerful female artists and singers like Joni Mitchell and Stevie Nicks. How, where and when she found her voice and way of looking at things is unknown to me but her approach to this classic speaks volumes. In the end it is an amazing reimagining. I wonder what Ray Davies thinks of it?

Robb Donker

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