Sunday, September 14, 2008

Gift of Screws is a 'cobbled-together bunch of leftovers'

Lindsey re-gifts
Gift of Screws is a 'cobbled-together bunch of leftovers'
Winnipeg Sun

Gift of Screws
Sun Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

Sometimes, you have to look a gift horse in the mouth -- if you don't want to get screwed, that is.
Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham's fifth solo CD seems like one of those occasions. As he admits in a press release: "This album is a distillation of a number of periods of time, some false starts to make albums, certainly some songs that go back a number of years, that took a while to find a home here, combined with brand-new songs and a whole other outlook."

Translation: It's a cobbled-together bunch of leftovers, demos and fleshed-out ideas -- some cut at home and on the road in the wake of his 2006 CD Under the Skin, with others dating back perhaps as far as 2001, when the album title Gift of Screws became a rumour in the Lindseysphere.

But even if it's mostly secondhand news, it's not all bad news. Buckingham also claims this disc rocks more than his last one. And it does -- on the cuts that feature Mac bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood. The rest of the time, it's all about Lindsey, his spiderwebby vocals and his precise, intricate guitar work.

Sure, it has its moments. But frankly, most of these tracks sound more like technical exercises and home-studio experiments than songs. So unless you want to pay to hear Buckingham dump out his hard drive, you might want to go your own way.

Great Day 3:12
Over a bare-bones beatbox that sets a brisk pace, Lindsey layers gently throbbing arpeggios and flamenco flourishes with his acoustic guitar, crowning the affair with echoing vocals.

Time Precious Time 4:25
Buckingham fingerpicks at breakneck speed, stitching together a needlepoint backdrop for another echoing vocal line. This one sounds like Peter Gabriel and Robert Fripp.

Did You Miss Me 3:55
Finally, an actual song -- a slice of breezy, bittersweet California folk-pop complete with a suitably laid-back beat, a chiming guitar line and an actual chorus.

Wait for You 4:58
Fleetwood and McVie boogie on the bottom while Lindsey slings some bluesy juke-joint slide licks and brays like Stevie Nicks. A nice hypnotic groove in search of a bigger hook.

Love Runs Deeper 3:56
It starts out an understated, strummy little pop ditty -- then busts open on the chorus into a big Mac-style acoustic rocker. Not brilliant, but not half bad either.

Bel Air Rain 3:49
The cascading waterfall of glistening tones that flows from Buckingham's flying fingers is superb. The rainstick and soaring vocals, not so much. Enough with the echo, already.

The Right Place to Fade 4:02
Another decent acoustic rocker, with a lilting melody, memorable hooks and (we presume) another visit from McVie and Fleetwood. This one could end up on a Mac album.

Gift of Screws 2:52
A scrappy number that walks the line between British Invasion pop and garage-rock. It's not bad -- until Buckingham begins laughing like a hyena in the chorus.

Underground 2:58
Dreamy and wistful without being too ethereal, this folk-pop number features a throbbing guitar and some quietly popping percussion.

Treason 4:26
After all that frantic fingerpicking, Buckingham finally runs out of steam, lazily strumming his way through this downbeat, Dylanesque folk-rock ballad.

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