Gift of Screws
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2008, Volume 15, #11
Written by John Metzger
Sun November 9, 2008, 11:00 AM CST
Once a songwriter gets the itch to step away from his main group and venture out on his own, he often saves his best material for his solo endeavors. Lindsey Buckingham, however, has taken the opposite approach. Over the years, he has had a tendency to abandon his albums completely, surrendering his songs to the Fleetwood Mac machine. Lately, though, Buckingham has been making up for lost time by putting the finishing touches upon his aborted projects. His fifth outing Gift of Screws — much like his 2006 endeavor Under the Skin — has been a long time coming. Both endeavors were scavenged from roughly the same era that also produced Fleetwood Mac’s Say You Will. Yet, at least in one regard, the results couldn’t have been more dramatically different.
Where Under the Skin played like a cohesive musical statement, Gift of Screws sometimes bounds from one place to the next with little warning. A few of its tracks, such as the rippling acoustic strum of Time Precious Time and the ethereal wispiness of Bel Air Rain, provide Buckingham with an opportunity to elaborate further upon the subdued, John Fahey-inspired textures that he explored so effectively on Under the Skin. Elsewhere, Did You Miss Me, with its taunting chorus, sounds as if it had been written for an album by Fleetwood Mac, while other cuts — like the frantic Great Day and the churning Wait for You — are situated somewhere in between.
Despite Gift of Screws’ scattered sonic constructs — and, perhaps, to mitigate them — Buckingham attempted to bind the album’s tracks together by carefully selecting songs from his leftover material and stitching them into a sequence that provides the illusion of a loosely knit narrative. The lyrics to Underground, for example, echo those of Did You Miss Me. Not surprisingly, too, his reflective tales of battle-scarred love often recall his work with Fleetwood Mac — a notion that is further bolstered throughout Gift of Screws by the presence of bass player John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood. In fact, it frequently appears, whether it’s true or not, as if Buckingham has conjured visions straight from the tumultuous relationship that he had with Stevie Nicks.
The problem, however, is that sometimes Buckingham’s transitions on Gift of Screws aren’t as seamless as they ought to be. Although he covers a lot of ground as he moves from the title track to Underground to Treason, it still feels as if a few pieces are missing from the puzzle, which likely is a direct consequence of the collection’s extended birth. Regardless, Buckingham deserves a lot of credit for making Gift of Screws work as well as it does. In the end, though, its individual components are often better than the final, comprehensive package. ˝
Of Further Interest...
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2008 The Music Box