by Brian Campbell
Fleetwood Mac’s songwriting giants team up for comforting ear-candy on first album as a duo.
From the very first chords of opener Sleeping Around the Corner, this album sounds exactly like what it refuses to be, a new Fleetwood Mac record.
Christine McVie was sorely missed when she left the Mac in 1998. The warm huskiness of her voice and wistful lyrics about love both lost and found provided the perfect antidote to Lindsay Buckingham’s rock sensibilities and especially the ethereal poetry of Stevie Nicks.
So when it was announced in 2015 that McVie would be rejoining the group for a world tour, fans of the ageing quintet were optimistic that a new album would also emerge, something the Rumours-era line-up had not managed since 1987.
Sadly, it was not to be, with Nicks bursting that particular bubble by refusing to participate and instead focussing on her considerable lower profile solo career (although, interestingly, still agreeing to another world tour next year).
Undeterred by the absence of their most famous bandmate, the other four (Buckingham and McVie are joined by drummer Mick Fleetwood and McVie’s ex-husband, bassist John) have ploughed on to produce this tight collection of soft rock gems that unashamedly harks back to the Californian MOR they defined in the mid-70s.
Shades of the iconic “Songbird” can be found on the gentle “Game of Pretend”, a song that reminds us that McVie is not only a talented singer/songwriter but also an accomplished pianist, while her bluesy execution of “Carnival Begins” makes for an engaging listen, enhanced by Buckingham’s feverish guitar.
And when Buckingham takes centre stage the results are equally successful. Melodic perfection flows through his dreamy compositions, with “In My World” driving the listener on an irresistible hook that leads to an equally irresistible sing-along chorus, while “Love Is Here to Stay” underlines Buckingham’s penchant for soul-searching through song. “Even though I stayed too long,” he sings, “even though I had no choice / I will do what I do best”.
Nicks might be conspicuous by her absence but this wholly successful album proves that Fleetwood Mac has talent to spare.