Denver Post Under the Skin Interview
Fleetwood Mac star goes his own way, sort of
By Ricardo Baca
Denver Post Pop Music Critic
Article Last Updated:11/10/2006 01:01:57 AM MST
Lindsey Buckingham wastes no time in making a concise point on his latest album, "Under the Skin."
The darkly half-spoken first track, "Not Too Late," shows the comfortably weird space that is home to the Fleetwood Mac legend.
"Reading the paper/Saw a review/
Said I was a visionary/But nobody knew/Now that's been a problem/Feeling unseen/Just like I'm living/Somebody's dream."
Buckingham, who plays the Paramount Theatre on Monday, is a visionary. But the artist never fully escaped the context of Fleetwood Mac - not even from his position behind the production boards, where he has made the largest impact since leaving the supergroup.
Last we heard from a solo Buckingham was 1992's "Out of the Cradle," which was his first post-Fleetwood Mac outing. But a lot has changed for the singer-guitarist-producer since then. He is now married with three kids, and he's also back together with Fleetwood Mac.
"And all of that hangs together here (in the new album) with a sense of that kind of intimacy and warmth," Buckingham said from Los Angeles last week.
While starting a family has centered Buckingham like never before, his getting back together with the band is only further proof that it's difficult out there on your own. His co-star in Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks, manages a forceful solo career on the weight of a couple of solo hits and her back catalog with Fleetwood Mac, but Buckingham's solo outings have never hit with the same impact.
And thus the line in "Not Too Late" about being a visionary and nobody knowing.
"That's a part of the line you walk when you're trying to be accountable to two different things, a larger machine and something that is closer to the heart, the left hand of the spectrum," Buckingham said, acknowledging his preference for the warmth of his solo work. "This record is just something we've been talking about doing for a long, long time. It feels like something that needed to happen and finally is happening."
As you might imagine, Buckingham's calendar is one of constant conflict between family and Fleetwood Mac, production work and session playing. Since Fleetwood Mac reunited in the late-'90s especially, there's always a heady sense of accommodation looming around group tours, recording sessions and the minutiae that surround both activities.
And Buckingham's freedom from those worries now is what makes this stage of his career so exciting. After touring behind "Under the Skin" through early 2007, Buckingham has plans to record and release another solo album, which could skew toward more traditional rock 'n' roll than this latest CD of fingerstyle guitar, which involves playing with the fingertips or fingernails instead of a pick.
This newfound freedom comes from his freshly developed philosophy: If Fleetwood Mac comes knocking, let them knock for a little while.
"Time after time, having a large enough window to be able to carve out that opportunity for yourself and your (solo) work has never existed because something having to do with Fleetwood Mac would always come up," Buckingham said. "This time I had to draw a line in the sand on the time frame."
It's never been that Buckingham's solo work wasn't captivating. It has always been intriguing, if sometimes meandering, and "Under the Skin" is a special collection of music. From the bright, post-Peter Gabriel pop of "Show You How" to the celebratory light-rock nod to Paul Simon's solo work, "Try for the Sun," this is a shining moment for Buckingham and his intricate guitar picking and heavily layered production. In "It Was You," he even makes an excursion into a reggae-dashed, pop-smart dub that leaves you wanting more.
The record isn't flawless. It's weighed down with instrumental sameness and the echo- and reverb-heavy production that has become Buckingham's trademark. It's also sometimes overwhelmed with his obvious penchant for found percussion, as songs from the title track to "Juniper" fail to connect.
But like the most recent collection of music from one of Buckingham's earliest inspirations - Brian Wilson's "Smile" - this is a joyous record that is an honest portrait of an artist, an earnest snapshot of what can happen when time is allowed.
"It was a complete, coherent artistic statement," Buckingham said, "and I'm very happy that I held that ground and that it seems that it's being received in the manner it was intended."
As for his other musical outlet, he said Fleetwood Mac will fly again - although the prospect of a new record, following up 2003's "Say You Will," is still unknown. While he is game to do it, "I can't say that everyone right now is on that page.
"That's the kind of a challenges we face on any number of levels: for Stevie and the writing of the songs, the time it takes to put something together, and the politics, which are not always that simple or pleasant," Buckingham said.
"(Before we record or tour) we have to arrive at a collective idea of what the band means right now."
Pop music critic Ricardo Baca can be reached at 303-954-1394 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
2006-11-10 Number of views: