If there is one band that connects old and new music fans more than any other, besides from perhaps the Beatles, it has to be Fleetwood Mac. From blues-loving rock n rollers in the 60’s to those seduced by soft rock mania in the 70’s to modern-day festival-goers, everyone loves Fleetwood Mac. The drama that enshrouds the band’s infamous history, involving acrimonious splitting of personal and professional relationships alike only adds to the allure of this most iconic band. Whichever member you stand behind or whosever story you believe the most, what is undeniable is the vital role Lindsey Buckingham has played in the band’s success.
His guitar-playing philosophy has always been to ‘serve the song’, which has translated into supreme talent as a songwriter. It is this which has allowed him to establish a distinguished solo career for himself, the latest addition to this being the recently released Lindsey Buckingham. The short album that has a run time of just over half an hour, begins with Scream which establishes a rhythmic introduction to the album that gets your head bobbing straight away. It is a short sharp song to get the album smoothly underway but is followed by a different style of song in I Don’t Mind where there is much more of a contrast between verse and choruses. Buckingham’s skill in songwriting and arranging is on display here as the coalescing of the high register guitar, backing vocals and groovy drums form the highly impressionable chorus which, although sounds simple, has lots going on within it.
This age-old and powerful arranging technique of creating disparity between the verse and chorus which Buckingham does so well, is also heard on next track On The Wrong Side. Specifically, this song demonstrates the importance of backing vocals in creating big and memorable choruses. It is on track 3 that the first real Buckingham lead guitar work with which we are all so familiar is heard. However, this familiarity is shattered when the following number Swan Song swipes you off your feet and lands you in what appears to be an 80’s rave! This complete change in direction makes the incredible solo stuck on to the end of the song outright bizarre, but no less amazing!
The rest of the album is spent decompressing from this shock and the energy of the first half of the album with more ballad-like songs, which includes a sorrowful reflection of the inevitable passing of time (Time), the downcast and slightly bitter lyric of Santa Rosa about someone leaving a home built together with their partner, as well as some interesting guitar work that goes with the oftentimes self-pitying and pessimistic lyrics, such as opening line of Blue Light; ‘Still crying about Joycie laughing about me’ and that which is later heard in the same song; ‘if you win or lose it’s all the same’.
Closing song Dancing takes this decompression down yet another level. It is almost hypnotically slow, with the arrangement leaving the soft vocals in this stripped song completely bare and vulnerable. The song is very different to any other on the album and thus provides a level of closure that may have seem challenging to achieve for an album so short.
Nothing will ever match the ineffable iconicity of Fleetwood Mac in their prime, but given his vast expertise, anything Lindsey Buckingham touches turns to gold and his latest album Lindsey Buckingham is no exception.