Stereogum Hearts Lindsey Buckingham

No secret that we’ve been anxiously waiting for Under The Skin, LB’s first solo release in fourteen years. The king of travis picking floored us with Out Of The Cradle, then pissed us off by rejoining Fleetwood Mac (again) for a where’s-Christine reunion tour and half-hearted protopolitical comeback album, Say You Will. That said, we’re thrilled Lindsey Buckingham, finally, is back with Under The Skin, released yesterday on the singer/songwriter’s 57th birthday. He addresses the absence from Stereogum’s iPod in opening track “Not Too Late.”

Lindsey Buckingham – “Not Too Late” (MP3)

?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?

But listening to Under The Skin (which we’ve done 20+ times in the last week) it’s like he never left. Frenetic octave-hopping fingerpicking abounds, as does LB’s penchant for eschewing any traditional percussion. This time, however, lame drum machines have been replaced by the more organic tones of Lindsey tapping on the furniture of hotel rooms in which the album was recorded. If this album came from a new artist — maybe a Ray LaMontagne, as opposed to the mastermind of Rumours — we think it might find love among the indie kids (Buckingham is to guitar what Joanna Newsom is to harp). But this won’t be climbing up the charts, and neither we nor his label expect it to. Which is why there was no new media campaign for the CD. Or maybe they’re just clueless how great this album is.

As expected, a married-with-children confessional lyrical theme pervades most of the album. (Attn: baby-boomer rockers … we get it.) Lindsey’s breathy vocals would be lost in the mix had he not over-and-overdubbed them, but we can’t complain because we’re so enthralled by his virtuosity. “Shut Us Down,” which you could’ve heard if you were one of the 100 people who saw Elisabethtown, is prime show-off material, with blues licks in 6/8 time that take our breath away. The Stones’ Aftermath deepcut “I Am Waiting” gets a twee bedsit makeover. Donovan does too (“Try For The Sun,” previously leaked via Gift Of Screws). But if anyone could make us care it’s Lindsey Buckingham. He made a Rodgers & Hammerstein tune cool!

Moved as we are by Lindsey’s solo prowess, we’d be remiss not to give props to Fleetwood Mac rhythm section’s cameo on “Down On Rodeo.” It’s the one track that could’ve been a hit for the group if Stevie was singing and it came out a quarter century ago. All about the chorus on that one.

Lindsey Buckingham – “Down On Rodeo” (MP3)

Not that we’re surprised: if you’ve heard “Countdown” or “Holiday Road” you know Lindsey is fully capable of crafting infectious pop tunes. “Countdown” used to be on heavy rotation on VH1! Although, that was when they played Ottmar Liebert on Sunday mornings.

Also worth mentioning is Gift Of Screws cut “Someone’s Gotta Change Your Mind” featuring Memphis horns arranged by David Campbell. That’s Beck’s dad, if you’re still with us.

We miss the anxiety and insanity of older tunes like “Wrong” and, well, “Go Insane,” but we’re told an electric record is on the way. Hopefully it won’t take 14 years.

To put this in proper (i.e., your) perspective, we give this album an 8.5, whereas Out Of The Cradle was a 9.5. That means buy both. Amazon | iTunes

Your gift for reading the whole post: Jordan from Snowden covering Fleetwood Mac.

Kill Peaches – “Dreams” (MP3)