Lindsey Buckingham fans will be excited to know that his latest album Out of the Cradle
(Warner Reprise) is definitely worth the wait. The California native first gained his music kudos as a producer/guitarist/singer/songwriter for the soft-rock giants Fleetwood Mac.
The sound he meticulously crafted became a radio rock staple of the mid-late 1970s and continued on into the 1980s as well. While his loyalty to the big Mac can’t be doubted due to his long term relationship with the band, the singer/songwriter has always seemed like a solo artist at heart – content to wile away hours in the studio until the tiniest note reaches his high standards. It’s no wonder than that it takes a while for Buckingham, a notorious perfectionist, to release solo albums. This is only his third solo release but, better late than never.
Having left Fleetwood Mac after the band’s 1987 album Tango in the Night, Buckingham seems to be enjoying a new found freedom. Liberated from his band’s inner turmoil and squabbling the singer seems determined to put the past behind him.
“Don’t Look Down”, which has an instrumental opening featuring some exquisite guitar-picking, is all about escape and salvation as he almost purrs “Spread your broken wings and learn to fly”. While the song’s lyrics might be simple, they are buoyed by a lush arrangement. Buckingham is an admitted fan of The Beach Boys studio wizard Brian Wilson and it’s obvious that he’s given the surf band’s Pet Sounds a few spins.
The music industry hasn’t always treated musicians with an artistic bent, like Buckingham, well and he does bear a bit of a grudge. So, what’s a songwriter to do? Go on the attack! “Wrong” finds the singer battling “the man”. Starting out with a menacing groove followed by Buckingham’s computer-tooled howls of “Hey mister rockcock”, the song delivers its message with a true rock and roll kick in the pants.
The album biggest success, lyrically and production wise is the bouncy pop-rocker, “Countdown”. It’s the closest thing the album has to a radio-friendly single and is just as good (if not better) than any of Buckingham’s work with his old band. Listen for the soaring guitar solo in the middle. It’ll make you wonder why he didn’t try for that sonic sound more often in his earlier Mac days.
Things turn serious on the mournful track “Street of Dreams” which finds the singer struggling with his father’s death and asking for some sort of guidance from beyond. If Buckingham has received any sort of advice it seems to be forgive and forget. He calls himself a “foolish pretender” on the song “Surrender The Rain” and seems ready to let go of the angry adrenaline that can come with a broken heart.
All in all, Lindsey Buckingham has crafted a captivatingly beautiful solo album for the music lover who likes to sit back and ponder the real craftsmanship that goes into making a record. While Fleetwood Mac was good for him, the solo life is what really treats him like a king.