Thursday, October 9, 2008

Lindsey Buckingham - Gift Of Screws (2008)

Always get kind of nervous posting new music but whatever. I'm gonna post up a few albums that I've uploaded for other reasons in the last couple weeks and just forgot to post here. But yeah, this is the new Lindsey Buckingham. It's great. Whereas 2006's "Under The Skin" was bizarre and artsy and stuff, this is just a great pop records. Of course it features Lindsey's signature finger-picking guitar style and his classic vocals. Definitely one of my favorite releases of the year.

Two studio albums in three years may not seem to be a breakneck pace for anybody else, but for Lindsey Buckingham it is no less than pure acceleration. Indeed if we include the live album that came out in 2007 between the two, it's like three outings in as many years -- warp speed for an artist like Buckingham who has been known to go more than a decade between his own offerings outside of Fleetwood Mac. On 2006's Under the Skin, Buckingham issued a soft-spoken songwriter's disc. It was all acoustic, deeply reflective, poignant, profound, and drenched in beauty. It was also criminally under-noticed. Somewhere he promised he'd release an electric rock record in the future. Gift of Screws (referencing the poetry of Emily Dickinson) may not be all the way there, but more often than not it offers the kind of rocking, heady electric pop he's known for, as well as some glorious, lyrically sophisticated, acoustic singer/songwriter fare that bears his signature alone. Some of these tracks were written for an aborted session begun in the 1990s. Still others made it onto the Mac's Say You Will, and still others are brand-spanking new.

The set opens with "Great Day," a pulsing, urgent, minor-key rocker that blends electric and acoustic guitars, organic and electronic percussion, and some hushed keyboards. It explodes near the end with a scorching, burn-up-the-wire guitar solo he usually only plays live. "Did You Miss Me?," written with wife Kristen Buckingham and featuring drums by Walfredo Reyes, could have appeared on any of Fleetwood Mac's blissed-out, bittersweet '70s recordings. The weave of guitars, layered backing vocals, and drop-dead catchy chorus is pure Buckingham. Mick Fleetwood and John McVie are the rhythm section on the rumbling multi-dimensional blues-winder "Wait for Me," which also offers more evidence of the guitar slinger emerging from the shadows to take place center stage before giving way to a dense multi-textured chorus that transcends the blues without leaving them for dead. Fleetwood also adds drums to "The Right Place to Fade," with bassist John Pierce. Acoustic guitars meld enormous power chords and stinging lead fills in a frenetically paced pop song. Along the way, there are hesitant, confessional, acoustically orchestrated songs where the darkness almost swallows the light as in "Bel Air Rain." The wall of strings fingerpicking style adds to the emotional heft of songs like "Time Precious Time," especially as the vocal effects give the sound a nearly three-dimensional quality. The title track is a balls-out rocker that places '60s rave-up garage rock up against '70s glam in a storm of guitars and clattering drums. The closer, "Treason," is a dignified near-anthemic pop song with a gospel chorus that is unlike any song Buckingham's written before and sends the set out in a very elegant and deeply moving way.

What it all means is simple: that Buckingham is not only still relevant, but he's also a pioneer in terms of craft, execution, and production, and has plenty to teach the current generation about making excellent records and never resting on your laurels. Gift of Screws is a standout even in his catalog.
-AMG (Thom Jurek)

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