Daisy Jones & The Six

Atlantic, 2023

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


A few weeks ago I saw a Fleetwood Mac tribute band. They did a nice job, but I was curious what they might have sounded like if they’d tried any originals in a similar style—and then I realized I’d been there and done that already.

Daisy Jones & The Six is a well-crafted 2019 novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid chronicling the meteoric rise and catastrophic implosion of the same-named fictional ’70s band, clearly based (as Reid has always admitted) on Fleetwood Mac. The book was optioned for a TV adaptation before it had even been published, and a 10-episode miniseries debuted on Amazon Prime in March 2023. One of the major hurdles before production could begin was that the book talks in some detail about a set of songs that didn’t exist, mostly taken from the imaginary band’s one and only album, the chart-topping Rumours analog Aurora.

The logical solution was to hire a bunch of pros to work up said songs for the miniseries, which would then be sung by the lead actors, Riley Keogh (granddaughter of Elvis Presley) and Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games, Peaky Blinders), playing perpetually smoldering in-love-but-not-together singer-songwriters Daisy Jones and Billy Dunne. What you’ll find here is the studio album the showrunners commissioned from a team led by songwriter/guitarist/producer and A-list session pro Blake Mills (Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell), and supported by a who’s-who of session players backing the two lead vocalists.

The challenge presented to this team was to create an album from the song titles and lyric fragments found in Reid’s manuscript that could credibly pass for a late-seventies my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Rumours-level megahit. It was a tall order, and while Mills and company hit the mark in a number of respects, they somewhat inevitably fell short in others.

The first half of the album feels mostly on target, with the kickoff title track a clear bullseye: driving drums, slightly weird guitars and sometimes tandem, sometimes unison male and female vocals. The lyrics aren’t especially memorable, but the sound is absolutely there. The indisputably catchy “Let Me Down Easy” again has that distinctive Mac bounce and drive in the rhythm section, not to mention a bitter melancholy in the way both singers deliver lines like “I got you under my skin now / Why do you make it so hard?”  

“Kill You To Try” features quirky guitar and percussion backing intense Claflin vocals, a very Lindsey Buckingham sonic frame; there are appropriate amounts of anger and longing in the vocals, though the lyric is again merely adequate. “Two Against Three” is a Daisy solo tune that’s pleasant enough—a lament about the love triangle she’s in with Billy and his wife, but feels more like an “advance the story” number than a standalone song. 

The band’s imagined chart-topping single “Look At Us Now (Honeycomb)” is another highlight, with a pulsing backbeat that’s unashamedly reminiscent of “The Chain.” When you add sinuously intertwined male and female vocals singing “We can make a good thing bad,” you have to hand it to them: character brief fulfilled, even if the book describes the song as being more compelling than this concrete rendering could possibly live up to. The thumping “Regret Me” straddles the midpoint of the album with a slightly heavier sound, a little Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers in its bones, leaning on the Hammond organ and jangly guitars.

From there it’s unfortunately a downhill ride the rest of the way with a series of tunes that come off like filler, obligatory “there’s a song with this title in the script, so let’s knock one out” tracks. “You Were Gone” is bland mid-tempo pop-rock; “Please” is a dark Claflin-sung number about addiction that feels overwrought, and closer “No Words” is a pensive love ballad. Slightly more memorable are “More Fun To Miss,” a wounded, wide-open blues rocker where Keogh gets to channel Janis a bit, and “The River,” a hard-edged, Stonesy rocker with slashing guitar.

Overall, Mills and his team locate and replicate the sound and vibe of late-seventies Los Angeles pop-rock personified by Rumours beautifully; it’s only the songs themselves that tend to fall short in terms of impact. And why wouldn’t they? Rumours was an album created by real people occupying a real emotional powder keg. Aurora is a group of modern studio pros playing dress-up with the sounds of an era without feeling the feelings of the real people who were there.

Rating: B-

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