Friday, September 12, 2008

This album is a gift indeed (Review)

by Chris Jones

Lindsey Buckingham, chiselled, unsmiling guitarist with Fleetwood Mac, first began recording Gift Of Screws between 1995 and 2001. In the intervening period nearly half the songs recorded were hijacked for the reunion album by the band, Say You Will, as well as various other projects including his own acoustic album, Under The Skin (2006). Luckily Mr B is a very talented man, and despite what may have seemed the cream of the crop being diverted for the greater good, the remaining ten songs are pure gold dust. This album is a gift indeed.

The title comes from an Emily Dickinson poem. The bulk of the material is self-played and self-produced. (with two songs co-written with wife Kristen and one with brother Will). Oh, and on another three songs some blokes called McVie and Fleetwood turn up to provide the rhythm tracks. It’s one of these (The Right Place To Fade) that Buckingham approaches the classic sound of the Mac, but elsewhere he’s his own man and the results are revelatory.

Most know the stories of Buckingham’s love of new wave bands that seemed at odds with the West Coast fare that his band epitomised. And indeed, Gift Of Screws approaches the avant garde in places. The opener, Great Day is quite some statement of intent. Fuelled by furiously plucked nylon strings it’s a fever pitch dash through whispered vocals and an incendiary guitar solo. Next up, Time Precious Time is no less startling. Over massed strings he intones like some alt folk hero a third of his age. From here it’s a brief (just over 39 minute) ride through pure Californian pop (Did You Miss Me, Love Runs Deeper) gonzo rock (Gift Of Screws), alien folk (Bel Air Rain) and so much more.

His voice is lithe, his fingers insanely nimble and his songwriting chops simply awesome. Really, anyone from the ages of 15 to 65 would find Gift Of Screws exhilarating. Quiet simply, a masterpiece.

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