Gift Of Screws

Lindsey Buckingham

A major band can often overshadow the talents of its individual members. Lucky for you, I am a stickler for such things and have been aware of the glowing talents of Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham for a long time. Known for his songwriting, guitar work, vocals and production behind the Mac, Buckingham has released five quirky solo albums. Now, with Gift Of Screws, his latest solo effort, Stevie Nicks' ex is once again showing off all he can do.

Over the course of 10 songs, Buckingham runs the gambit from wild acoustic guitar work-outs to atmospheric aural murals to straight ahead pop. I happen to think Lindsey Buckingham is a very innovative musician; however, sometimes Lindsey Buckingham gets a little caught up in being Lindsey Buckingham. Sure, his identity, his style, and even at times, his weirdness, has made him millions and earned him the respect of his contemporaries. But when I hear songs like "Time Precious Time" and "Bel Air Rain," I wonder if hes not just trilling to trill. By this, I mean his oft-used style of playing solid guitar arpeggios often function as foundations for some of his songs, creating a spooky mood maybe, but no real song. Even on a tune like the title track, with Mac band mates John McVie and Mick Fleetwood backing him, Buckingham's vocal flourishes (not exactly screams, but close) are a little too much of Lindsey Buckingham being too much like Lindsey Buckingham.

But when he's on, he's on. And for most of Gifts Of Screws, Lindsey Buckingham is definitely on. Songs like "Great Day" represent that tight and rigid construction we've grown to love from this guy. "Did You Miss Me" and "Love Runs Deeper" feature strong hooks and driving acoustic guitars (think "Go Your Own Way"). "Wait For You" is a nice blues number with some stellar guitar chops. And "The Right Place To Fade" is near as perfect a song as you're ever going to hear. On this one especially, Buckingham drops in a spot-on backing vocal and plays guitar lines that never detract from the groove or lead vocal.

The two final songs on Gift Of Screws are drastically different from one another, but just as strong. "Underground" finds him revisiting his regulated guitar work and inspirational vocals. "Treason" (probably the most overt political lyric Buckingham has managed since "Peacekeeper" from Fleetwood Macs Say You Will album) is wholly different then anything else on the record. With its slightly dragging beat, pointed lyrics and some great backing vocals, "Treason" is just what is needed to end this CD.

This is a solid piece of work from one of the most interesting guitar players/songwriters around. That Lindsey Buckingham is still making music this many years on, with either Fleetwood Mac or as a solo artist, is a blessing to be sure. Even if the guy does occasionally spin his wheels in stylistic indulgences, Gift Of Screws is definitely worth picking up.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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