This week our reviewers listen to the latest from former Fleetwood Mac star Lindsey Buckingham, catchy country rock from Sherry Rich and acclaimed violinist Hilary Hahn.
Lindsey Buckingham ★★½
Sometimes the soap opera threatens to obscure the music. Case in point: Fleetwood Mac. The drugs, the affairs, the infighting, the walkouts and the reconciliations have become part of the band narrative, most recently in 2018 when, after increasing tensions in the group, Lindsey Buckingham was fired and replaced with Neil Finn and Mike Campbell for live shows. He’s taken his ball, gone home and made his first solo album in a decade.
Buckingham was always the weirdly shaped peg in the Mac machine while they helped create the ’70s US West Coast FM-rock universe. When he was given free rein on the band’s 1979 opus Tusk, the world discovered he was more enamoured with the left-field experimentation of Brian Wilson or Todd Rundgren: mercurial musicians and maverick producers with highly individual visions of how songs should sound.
This self-titled disc softly treads the same ground he has been covering for a while now – close-miked guitar played in his distinctive finger-picked style, lead vocals in his high, breathy register, layers of gossamer harmonies and beats that twitch and fidget. Case in point is first single I Don’t Mind, a sparkly wisp of a thing that rhymes willow with pillow and broken arrow with straight and narrow, while you’re left wondering how it might sound with Mick Fleetwood providing a big beat and Stevie Nicks cutting through with her white-winged dove vocals.
Remember, this is a man whose best-known solo hit, 1981’s Trouble, was a Vaseline-lensed soft-rock song he introduced with a repeated “two, a-three, a-four” count-in as if he was imitating Cookie Monster. Buckingham shoots for The Everly Brothers on the echo-laden Blind Love and constructs an aural Venn diagram where Paul Simon and Roy Orbison intersect on Time, but there’s a compressed and boxy aura around the production, while Swan Song threatens motion sickness with the strobe-like effect of fluttering Spanish guitars rubbing up against a beat with a case of the jitters.
The solo in On the Wrong Side proves he can still pull off the licks with ease, even if the song’s thin sound doesn’t match his virtuosity. Is it wrong to wish Buckingham would let it hang out again and build on the legacy of Go Your Own Way, a song that rocked and shimmered so majestically? Maybe that’s a place he no longer wishes to revisit, but these songs suggest yet another Mac reconciliation could be in order. BARRY DIVOLA
The Divine Crimson V ★★★★