September 16, 2021
Drake and Kanye West are feuding. Meanwhile, Stevie Nicks says: “Hold my shawl.”
In the days leading up to the release of ex-bandmate Lindsey Buckingham’s new self-titled album, the fractious former Fleetwood Mac couple were once again in discord. In 2018, the latter was booted off a Fleetwood Mac tour he wanted to postpone in order to accommodate a solo tour of his own.
In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Buckingham blamed his dismissal from the band on Nicks, his long-ago partner. “I think she wanted to shape the band in her own image, a more mellow thing – and if you look at the last tour, I think that’s true,” he said.
In response, Nicks released a statement to the magazine: “To be exceedingly clear, I did not have him fired. I did not ask for him to be fired; I did not demand he be fired.” If one reads between the lines, the suggestion is that Nicks had nothing to do with Buckingham’s dismissal.
Has anyone thought of bringing in the comparatively harmonic Oasis brothers Liam and Neil Gallagher to mediate the latest Fleetwood Mac he-said/she-said? Probably not. “Now here you go again, you say you want your freedom,” as a great song once put it.
Which brings us to the eponymous seventh solo studio album by singer-guitarist Buckingham. It’s an acoustic, melodically agreeable affair with contemplative lyrics and restrained production. It’s deeply El Segundo – one is compelled to move West, hire an agent and embrace the earthquakes. The fury of something like Fleetwood Mac’s Big Love just isn’t there.
Don’t be misled by the title of the opening song: Scream is a good scream, a gratified scream. “Nighttime’s the time I love so much, lost in the language of your touch,” Buckingham sings, his voice drenched in familiar reverb. It sounds like it could have been written for a Fleetwood Mac album – and maybe it was.
The verse of I Don’t Mind is a more whispery Nirvana, but the chorus is sweet and sun-drenched. Though the third track On the Wrong Side is more up-tempo, its mood is wistful. Pretty guitar solos wind down to their destinations, like a top-down coupe on a coastal highway. Being on the wrong side of 70 seems to be what the 71-year-old is contemplating:
Time is rolling down the road
Now goes right in a hearse
We were young and never old
Who can tell me which is worse?
There’s a retro vibe at work. Blind Love is dreamy pop from the Ricky Nelson era, and a haunting cover of the sixties folk song Time (originally recorded by the Pozo-Seco Singers) conjures a Roy Orbison-Brian Wilson duet.
There are moments of cocaine-fueled tangos. And Santa Rosa could be a breakup song. Still, there’s more gentle resignation than fight to the record. The word “compromise” even comes up. One might even say the album is mellow – the same adjective Buckingham used to describe Nicks’s vision of the modern-day Fleetwood Mac.
Seems like someone’s made a breakthrough here.