Going his own way
Stevie Nicks was only able to join Fleetwood Mac because of Lindsey Buckingham’s insistence, but that didn’t stop her years later allegedly demanding his ejection following a row during an award’s ceremony. Then, in 2019, the American guitarist underwent a triple bypass operation following a heart attack, and soon after became embroiled in a divorce from Kristen Messner, his wife of over 20 years.
Buckingham described this ‘triple whammy’ as “a trifecta of events that were completely off the charts.” But many artists use these kinds of circumstances to produce powerful art. Either way, it is these traumas that provide the context to Buckingham’s seventh solo studio album, and his first post-Mac solo studio effort, entitled Lindsey Buckingham (17 September, 2021; Rough Trade).
And it could be said that he has gone his own way with this offering, as the entire record was written, produced and recorded by Buckingham at his home studio in Los Angeles. Oh, and as if to assert his independent spirit and self-sufficiency he plays: electric, acoustic and bass guitars, keyboards, synthesizers, percussion, and does all the singing…
Given what Buckingham has gone though it seems appropriate that the album kicks off with Scream, which I guess seeks to put distance between him and his recent problems. The songwriter immediately shows his gift for strong melodies here, as he sings with abandon: “Lost in the language of your touch, Just like you’re wakin’ from the dream, Oh, I love you when you scream.”
Next up is the album’s first single release, I Don’t Mind, which is a poignant love song whose realism helps it skilfully avoid the trap of being over-sugary. Whether the lyrics relate to the composer’s relationship with Nicks or Messner is unknown, but the plea for compromise and understanding can clearly be heard: “Oh my love, the sky is burning, So much left to do, You and I will still be learning, Always something new.”
On The Wrong Side also deals with endings but this time it seems most likely to be focused on his split with his band. “I’m outta pity, I’m outta time, Another city, another crime, I’m on the wrong side” he sings, before letting rip with a gut-wrenching guitar solo. It’s an anthem made for a stadium sing-a-long, but don’t expect to see too many Fleetwood Mac members on backing vocals…
The cover of the Pozo-Seco Singers’ Time allows Buckingham to show his reflective side on his acoustic, which specifically saw him employ his Taylor 814ce at a recent gig at Wisconsin’s Pabst Theater. The closer Dancing, on the other hand, is a wistful track that genrously rewards repeated listenings.
Buckingham’s postponed US tour to support the album begins this month, in September 2021, and his plan next year is to continue on through the UK and many other European cities. Covid-19, divorce, health problems and complications over his role in one of the world’s biggest bands are not going to stop him… Buckingham is confidently and defiantly charting his own route, and doing it his way.