Album Review: “Buckingham McVie”

Who needs Stevie Nicks?

Apparently, the plan for Fleetwood Mac had been to go on tour with a returning Christine McVie, make a truckload of money, record a new album, go on a retirement tour, and make even more money so that the members music’s longest-running soap opera would never have to work together again if they wished. Lindsay Buckingham and Christine McVie did their part by writing songs and taking part in recording sessions with Mick Fleetwood and John McVie in preparation for what would have been Fleetwood Mac’s first studio album since 2003’s “Say You Will.”

Stevie Nicks, however, decided to go her own way (sorry).

Opting to go on a solo tour instead of joining her cohorts in the studio, Stevie Nicks put her bandmates in a position where they could either wait for her or go ahead and release their work under a different name. Lindsay Buckingham and Christine McVie opted for the latter, and the result is an enjoyable album that is light years better than “Say You Will.”

Given his tumultuous and turbulent decades-old relationship with Stevie, it’s easy to overlook that, when it comes to making music, his soulmate within Fleetwood Mac has always been Christine. Some of Fleetwood Mac’s best songs were co-written by the two of them (“World Turning,” “Think About Me”) or features the two singing lead together (“Hold Me,” “Don’t Stop”). Buckingham, pretty much, admits this. In a mini-documentary chronicling the making of “Lindsay Buckingham/Christine McVie,” Buckingham calls McVie a “kindred spirit” while gushing over her songwriting skills and musicianship.

The natural and obvious musical chemistry between the two of them comes through on the album. Perhaps it helps that they don’t have the kind of emotional baggage that comes from a torrid affair and bad breakup (at least, not that we know of). As such, Buckingham and McVie sound like they’re having fun – a quality that rarely applies to Fleetwood Mac albums. Indeed, it seems as if releasing the album as a duo instead of as Fleetwood Mac has given them freedom to experiment. “Feel About You,” is a piece of pure bubblegum pop that would stick out like a sore thumb on a Mac album. “Sleeping Around the Corner” features a strange vocal delivery from Buckingham that wouldn’t sound out of place on one of his solo albums.

Almost every song on the album is good. “Love is Here to Stay” is a beautiful song built around Buckingham’s still transcendent guitar playing. “Red Sun” is a catchy number from McVie that utilizes another well-known Fleetwood Mac trope – the Buckingham outtro guitar solo. The songs aren’t all winners, of course. “Too Far Gone,” for instance, is over-produced and contains a superfluous Mick Fleetwood drum riff tacked on at the end of the chorus – seemingly to justify having him involved with the project.

In any event, “Lindsay Buckingham / Christine McVie” is an excellent album that only gets better with each listen. It won’t make them the kind of money that a proper Fleetwood Mac album and tour would, but it shows that there is life without Stevie.