Some people are motivated by money. Others by fame and the perks of a celebrity lifestyle. For Lindsey Buckingham, iconic singer-songwriter who is the cornerstone of that little ol' band known as Fleetwood Mac, clearly the impetus comes from a more pure source; the artistic soul that was born to create.
When Fleetwood Mac was done decimating the planet after delivering one of the most globally-loved records of all time, Rumours, Buckingham tried to push the band in a more organic, rather than expected, approach. The resulting record, Tusk, was as a result of his experimental curiosity that baffled some people as much as it quenched Buckingham's need for self-expression. His previous solo records have shown an aptitude for taking melodies that are ear-friendly and somehow removing the inner gloss of the song, creating little jewels that won't become yesterday's ear canal dust bunnies.
Under the Skin, Lindsey's fourth solo record continues this streak in a big way, eclipsing all of his previous work. This record is an absolute masterpiece. From the awesome songs, to the inspired guitar work, haunting vocals and deft production, all aspects have climbed into the ring and emerged victorious.
Never has a voice, acoustic guitar and sparse percussion communed in such a symbiotic honeymoon. Anyone who has heard Buckingham's first record recorded along with then-girlfriend Stevie Nicks (aptly entitled Buckingham Nicks) or who has seen him in concert knows that the man is a dynamo on guitar. Favoring the finger-picking style on most cuts, the man is a machine, taking simple melodies and fleshing them out instrumentally so that they're at once unfettered and interesting enough to carry the weight.
"Not Too Late" has a gentle vocal on top of a maniacally finger-picked guitar that sounds like a spider on crack spinning webs of shiny cotton candy. Lyrically, the song seems to lament the fact that Buckingham has been overlooked as a creative force in pop culture. The mood lightens with the next cut "Show You How" which is a bouncy affair highlighted by his unpolished vocal. Probably the highlight of the record is the title track which is one of those melancholy/happy songs, like watching a glorious sunset on the best day ever.
"Cast Away Dreams" is one of those camp-fire songs that should find favor with everybody. The engaging chord progression is matched by Buckingham's soothing voice. The rambling guitar work in "Shut Us Down" is mesmerizing as the passion flows from finger to string. Guesting on the excellent "Down on Rodeo" is Mac co-founder, bassist John McVie, while Mick Fleetwood picks ups the sticks contributes percussion to "Someones' Gotta Change Your Mind".
There are two covers on here. The Jagger/Richards-penned "I am Waiting" and Donovan's "To Try For the Sun" and both retain the original feeling while being invigorated by Buckingham's arrangements.
Buckingham is rumored to be working on more of a rock record for a 2007 release. In the meantime, fans HAVE to check out this record as it is the best work he has done. I heard recently that Rolling Stone said only Bob Dylan and Jesus are shoe-ins for 5 stars. Well, Buckingham isn't Jesus but he's pretty close to a God-like talent.