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Lindsey Buckingham, ‘Seeds We Sow’ – Album Review

Seeds We Sow
Buckingham Records

While Fleetwood Mac have been relatively quiet of late, Lindsey Buckingham has used the long gap between Mac albums (their last was 2003′s ‘Say You Will’) to release a series of increasingly excellent solo records that hark back to his blistering work on ‘Tusk.’ While 2006′s ‘Under the Skin’ was a hushed folk-rock affair, 2008′s ‘Gift of Screws,’ and the newly released ‘Seeds We Sow,’ are a reminder that Buckingham is one of best (and most underrated) singer-songwriters working today.

As usual, Buckingham fully takes the reigns on the self-released record — producing, mixing, and engineering the album himself. On the acoustic title track, Buckingham shows off his signature finger-picking flair amid melancholy references to “pretty things dying in the penny arcade of Edgar Allan Poe.”

‘In Our Own Time’ starts out as another shimmery folk track before Buckingham belts out the chorus. (“Wouldn’t make any difference/we crossed the line/from the fire we will rise again/in our own time”). Buckingham is equally fiery on the album standout ‘That’s the Way Love Goes,’ a churning pop-rock tune that sounds like a lost track from Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Mirage’ album. It’s moments like this that make you wish that the Buckingham of ‘Tusk’ gems ‘The Ledge’ and ‘What Makes You Think You Think You’re the One’ would pop up more often.

If Buckingham doesn’t break out vocally as much as he did on ‘Gift of Screws,’ musically he is at the top of his game. ‘Stars Are Crazy’ and ‘Rock Away Blind’ should satisfy anyone looking for a blast of Buckingham’s distinctive guitar arpeggios. Those missing the harmonies and driving drums of his Fleetwood Mac work will find a lot to like in bouncy tracks like ‘Illumination’ and ‘One Take.’

Meanwhile, fans of ‘Tango in the Night’-era Mac will dig the smooth, soft rock stylings of the gorgeous synth-kissed love song ‘When She Comes Down.’ (It rivals the recent Bon Iver track ‘Beth/Rest’ for the title of “ultimate ’80s adult contemporary throwback of 2011.”)

Following up on themes developed in ‘Gift of Screws,’ the lyrics on ‘Seeds We Sow’ find Buckingham ruminating on eternal love, death and the unstoppable drum march of time. Buckingham sings of the “end of the line” on ‘End of Time’ and muses that “when they finally come to bury us, maybe then we’ll tell the truth.”

The album closer, a strong cover of  the Rolling Stones’ ‘She Smiled Sweetly,’ brings this song cycle to an intense close with an audible exhale. (Could the “she” Buckingham refers to throughout the album be the sweet embrace of Lady Death?)

‘Seeds We Sow’ comes at a time of renewed interest in Buckingham and his band of merry Mac-sters. Stevie Nicks is riding high off her best solo album in more than a decade, while a young audience is discovering Fleetwood Mac classics like ‘Landslide’ and ‘Dreams’ thanks to the recent ‘Rumours’-themed episode of ‘Glee.’ And of course, there was Buckingham’s recent appearance on ‘Saturday Night Live’ opposite his on-screen doppelganger Bill Hader in the “What Up With That” sketch. (There’s also talk of new Fleetwood Mac music in 2012.)

Never one to coast on his past triumphs, Buckingham is making the most of this new phase of his career through stellar albums and live shows (he just kicked off a national solo tour) that demonstrate why he is one of the most enduring icons in classic rock.

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