Gift Of Screws

Lindsey Buckingham

Reprise, 2008

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


In listening to Lindsey Buckingham’s previous four albums, a thought occurred to me, which has also been shared by many other music critics -- “This guy was obviously desperately seeking success as a solo artist apart from his band Fleetwood Mac… but always seemed to come up short… pity.”

Perhaps it was the fact that nobody knew his name, as he laments on “Wait For Me,” the one killer standout track from his latest effort Gift Of Screws. Lindsey is a female name, after all. Guess it’s no wonder people often mixed his name up with his very female bandmate Stevie Nicks. Blondie’s Deborah Harry also struggled to make a name for herself when she went solo -- people always and forever will assume that Blondie is her real name!

All the elements were certainly there for Buckingham to hit the big time: the crisp production, the immaculate guitar work, the pop hooks, the nervy persona, and the perfect balance between the experimental and the straightforward. Having said that, comparisons of his five solo records and the six he has recorded with FM my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 are inevitable. Let’s face it, nothing he has done apart from the enveloping fold of his band will ever reach the gold standard of his work on albums like Rumours and Say You Will. So try as he may, it just was never in the cards for a stellar solo career on par with, well, Stevie Nicks’.

Perhaps if he treated all of it as a lark, it all wouldn’t seem like such a futile waste of his time and talents. I mean, this guy spends virtually all of his time in the studio feverishly creating music. Sometimes he can be such a perfectionist it takes him over ten years to release an album. On Gift Of Screws, he thankfully dispenses with the dreary acoustic fare of the utterly boring Under The Skin and attempts to bring back the edgy style he is known for (especially on the delightfully outrageous title track). Unfortunately, such excitement is in much smaller doses this time around, probably owed in part to the fact that Lindsey is now pushing 60.

An interesting choice to open the album, “Great Day” has an almost indie feel due to its bare bones musical accompaniment. At the other end of the spectrum, both “Love Runs Deeper” and “Right Time To Fade” suffer from uneven, overproduction and too much distracting instrumentation. Perhaps the best chance of a hit single comes in the form of “Did You Miss Me,” though any chart success at this point for Buckingham would be on the Adult Contemporary or AOR Chart. Co-penned by his wife, “Time Precious Time” has some excellent liquid guitar work, which gives it a nice feminine touch. She also took the grim cover photo of Lindsey, so perhaps she should stick to songwriting. It has to be the worst cover photo since Annie Lennox’s frightening image on her Bare album from 2003.

This, my friends, could be the last gasp when it comes to Lindsey Buckingham releasing any more solo albums. All I can say is, PLEASE bring back the Mac.

Rating: C+

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© 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.