Say You Will

Fleetwood Mac

Reprise, 2003

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


As hard as they may have tried to keep it in place, Fleetwood Mac’s lineup underwent yet another change in 2002 when Christine McVie left the group to record a solo album and enjoy semi-retirement. Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks had no other choice than to join forces and double their efforts when they went into the studio to record their eighteenth studio album Say You Will. The result was similar to what the duo achieved thirty years earlier with their debut album, Buckingham Nicks.

Basically, Say You Will is like two solo albums rolled into one, which is why fans of Fleetwood Mac were a somewhat disparaging of it when it was first released. Actually, I happen to like the pastiche quality of this record and it is obvious that both Buckingham and Nicks still have a lot of fire in them yet. The level of creativity, clean production, and amazing cover art all add up what I am prepared to argue is their best album since 1977’s Rumours.

There is so much material to sift through here that it feels like a double album, almost along the same lines as Tusk. Always keen on making a major statement with his music, Lindsey Buckingham produced the bulk of Say You Will, along with the help of Rob Cavallo and John Shanks. Buckingham’s songs are among the most exciting in the history of rock and roll, and the ones he has written for this project are certainly no exception. From the impressive and aptly titled opener “What’s The World Coming To,” I was immediately hooked in and remained that way for the long duration of the album. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Songs like “Murrow Turning Over In His Grave” and “Red Rover” help to show that Buckingham isn’t about to go out quietly. It is almost as if he is doing all he can to keep old age from setting in. It is a testament to his abilities as a talented guitar player, songwriter, producer, and artist.

As for Nicks, she too has been given a shot of adrenaline here, even though she isn’t immune to throwing in a sleepy ballad or two. Her voice has never sounded better and her songwriting is as timeless as ever. It is evident Nicks is more than ready to play a game of one-upsmanship with Buckingham, who always encourages a competitive spirit in trying to get the best out of his band mates. This dynamic is what keeps Fleetwood Mac going…and going and going.

Among the best Stevie Nicks contributions on Say You Will, there is the smoking-hot barnburner “Running Through The Garden,” the crystalline work of art “Smile At You” and her heartfelt tribute to the victims and heroes of 9/11, “Illume.” There are also plenty of moments where she and Buckingham share the spotlight, such as on the singles “Say You Will” and “Peacekeeper.”

Though they are in the background, founders Mick Fleetwood and John McVie provide the all-important rhythm section that make songs like “Miranda,” “Come” and “Everybody Finds Out” stand out so effectively. Their percussion and bass consistently provide the foundation for which all Fleetwood Mac songs are based.

If you want to see and hear how this album translates to the stage in a live concert, you should by all means pick up a copy of the recent Live In Boston DVD. Resonating the most are the two soul-stirring tracks that close things out, “Say Goodbye” and “Goodbye Baby.” Fleetwood Mac fans everywhere must be hoping and praying that this isn’t the end for the band, though such song titles do have an air of finality to them.

So far, it has been a tradition to keep FM alive no matter what. Members may come and go, but somehow the Fleetwood Mac name has endured. It would be quite something if the sons and daughters of Mick, John, Christine, Lindsey and Stevie could somehow become the next generation and incarnation of the band. Something like that has never happened before, but if there is any group that can make it happen, Fleetwood Mac is that group.

Rating: A

User Rating: B-



© 2008 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Reprise, and is used for informational purposes only.