Music Review: Lindsey Buckingham – Gift Of Screws
If you have heard of Lindsey Buckingham, it is almost assuredly because of his work with Fleetwood Mac rather than his solo career. While Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie shared the glow of the spotlight, it was Buckingham that largely shaped Fleetwood Mac’s sound during their most popular years. He was the arranger and co-producer for a large amount of Fleetwood Mac’s music. He also contributed some of their very best songs, including the classic “Go Your Own Way” as well as “Monday Morning”, “Second Hand News”, “Never Going Back Again”, “Tusk” and “Big Love.” His solo work, meanwhile, has come very sporadically over the years and has never really found an audience. His solo albums have been critical favorites, but they are often almost inaccessible upon initial listenings. Buckingham is a true maverick that sticks to his own style and doesn’t compromise his musical visions for record sales.
After 2006’s lovely acoustic album Under The Sun, Buckingham made mention that he had another album, a rocker, on the back burner. It’s here, it’s called Gift Of Screws and it does indeed rock. Buckingham has always been an absolutely amazing guitarist with a technique all his own, and he shows that of to great effect on Gift Of Screws. Eschewing the guitar pick, Buckingham instead picks and strums with his fingers, even while playing electric guitar. He is able to create a unique sound which has to be seen to be truly appreciated. For a good example, click here to see him play “Big Love” solo in concert.
Buckingham’s guitar is front and center on “Gift Of Screws.” Right out of the gate, “Great Day” encompasses his signature sound with exquisitely picked acoustic guitars (but not as you are probably thinking: Buckingham is anything but predictable) and a wailing electric guitar solo at the end. “Wait For You” ups the ante, with some scorching work on the electric, reminding me a bit of “World Turning” from the Fleetwood Mac album. Other Mac moments are here as well, with “The Right Place To Fade” echoing the vocal and guitar work of “Second Hand News.”
Buckingham also delivers the goods on acoustic guitar in several songs, most notable on the the wondrous “Time Precious Time.” Here the guitar is layered against heavily echoed vocals to create a sonic wall, almost dream-like upon repeated listenings. “Underground” and “Treason” give off the same sort of vibe, closing out the album in a lovely fashion.
A few of the songs here (“Wait For You”, “Love Runs Deeper” and the aforementioned “Right Place To Fade”) sound like they could be radio hits, but for the most part this is typical Lindsey Buckingham solo work: eclectic, quirky and way too wild to receive substantial airplay. Check out the title track, which rocks out greatly and has a real nice groove but features Buckingham laughing/barking after the chorus. I love it: it is used to great effect and reminds me of his epic, crazily inspired live version of “Not That Funny.” It’s incredible to behold, but you have to wonder if anyone else out there really gets it.
As mentioned earlier, Gift Of Screws is a typical Buckingham solo album in that it may take a couple of listens for it to all make sense. It is not as accessible as his Out Of The Cradle album from the early 90’s, but it is easier to get into than 1984’s Go Insane, which sounds like it was put together by a musical mad scientist. Maybe someday Lindsey Buckingham will make an album that appeals to the masses and sells like crazy. But until then I will be firmly in his corner, backing someone who puts out challenging material. Lindsey Buckingham proves once again that he is an oddball musical genius.