Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review: Lindsey Buckingham Seeds We Sow - a solid album with strong hooks and irresistible vocal harmonizing

Lindsey Buckingham
Seeds We Sow
(Mind Kit)
Written by Ernie Paik

Demonstrating one of the most successful band reboots ever, Fleetwood Mac evolved irregularly, going from a good-to-great British blues-rock group to a staggeringly popular rock/pop phenomenon, with the inclusion of Americans Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham in the mid-’70s.  For the current generation of listeners, understanding why other ’70s phenomena were huge and important may be easier to fathom—ABBA spawned modern pop, and Led Zeppelin bridged the transition from blues-worship to hard rock.

But, understandably, Fleetwood Mac likely brings to mind, to vaguely informed youngsters, middle-of-the-road Californian soft rock and Stevie Nicks’s earthy long-dress mysticism.  The multi-multi-platinum-selling album Rumours got most of the attention, but this writer maintains that the true masterpiece of the Fleetwood Mac reboot is the ambitious 1979 double-album Tusk, largely due to Lindsey Buckingham’s contributions; with home recording experimentation and bent pop conventions, his tracks were always a little off-center but never unpalatable.

Decades later, it’s comforting to know that Buckingham hasn’t rested nor given in to mediocrity, and his latest, Seeds We Sow, is actually the third in a run of solo releases in the last half-decade, following the excellent Under the Skin and Gift of Screws.  With Buckingham’s own reboot (there’s a 14-year gap between Under the Skin and its predecessor), he has emerged with a style that highlights his acoustic guitar fingerpicking chops; this is apparent on the opening title track and throughout the album, like on “Stars Are Crazy,” with cascades of echoing note patterns.

As possibly hinted by its title, “In Our Own Time” is hard to place in a certain time period, with drum machine beats, jarring string-ensemble hits, and the trademark Buckingham pop-song nervousness.  He shows a D.I.Y. spirit, releasing and recording Seeds We Sow by himself, and his home recordings are stark and clean but not shiny-slick, with everything up front.  It may come as a surprise—a solid album with strong hooks and irresistible vocal harmonizing, showcasing Buckingham’s vitality as a veteran who refuses to go through the motions.

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