Lindsey Buckingham: Lindsey Buckingham (Reprise)
Verdict: catchy Californian pop
Yebba: Dawn (RCA)
Verdict: Dazzling start
H3000: H3000 (EMI)
Verdict: Futuristic electronics
The road to Lindsey Buckingham’s first solo album in ten years has been bumpy. The former Fleetwood Mac singer and guitarist had planned to deliver the record three years ago, but was suspended because he underwent heart surgery. Its release was further delayed by the pandemic.
In June, the musician and his wife, Kristen Messner, separated after 21 years of marriage, and there was also another all-powerful row with his former bandmates: In 2018, he was ousted from Fleetwood Mac in the day before the band’s 50th anniversary tour, and the ramifications of that split are rumbling.
Rather than feeling sorry for herself, Lindsey appears remarkably optimistic. There’s a sad reflection, but it’s hard to resist its contagious melodies, and there’s even a touch of artistic invention that was a hallmark of Fleetwood Mac’s 1979 album, Tusk. Of the ten tracks here, only two are ballads.
Buckingham, 71, made the album at his home in Los Angeles, playing most of the instruments himself and providing his own backing vocals.
The road to Lindsey Buckingham’s first solo album in 10 years has been bumpy, but she finds the 71-year-old rocker remarkably optimistic
As the songwriter behind hits like Go Your Own Way and Big Love, it’s no surprise to find echoes of Fleetwood Mac’s heyday on Buckingham’s new record.
He was the songwriter of hits like Go Your Own Way and Big Love, so it’s no surprise to find echoes of his former band’s heyday. Indeed, there are times when it’s impossible not to wonder (longingly) what former girlfriend Stevie Nicks or keyboardist Christine McVie may have brought to these songs in terms of extra harmony.
His heritage is more pronounced on the galloping rockers that open the album. Scream is energetic and tinged with rockabilly. I Don’t Mind features lyrics about the challenges couples face in long-term relationships. On The Wrong Side, decorated by a fluid guitar, talks about both aging and life on the road.
The beat slows down a bit on Blind Love – an elegant song in the style of soulful singer Sam Cooke – and the album’s only cover, Time.
The latter was a hit in the United States for the 1960s folk-pop group, the Pozo-Seco Singers, and Buckingham’s version, true to the original, is a nod to American pop music that ‘he heard in his youth.
There is more soul-searching on Santa Rosa, as he expresses regret over a failing relationship, but the overwhelming feeling is to banish bad feelings and stay resilient, a mood summed up by the singing melody of Blue Light. .
In keeping with Fleetwood Mac’s reputation as the world’s oldest rock soap opera, the album’s arrival was overshadowed by group politics.
Lindsey says he was kicked out of the band because Stevie Nicks “wanted to shape the band in his image.” She hit back by saying she didn’t demand his dismissal, while founding member Mick Fleetwood now simply wants him back in the fold.
All of this makes it a bittersweet addition to an ongoing saga. Fans of classic Mac albums, such as Rumors and Mirage, are hoping for another reconciliation. In the meantime, Buckingham’s knack for composing perfect pop earworms remains intact.
When producer Mark Ronson – who has worked with Amy Winehouse, Adele and Lady Gaga – describes a singer as “one of the best I’ve ever had the luxury of being on the other side of the glass”, he is time to take note.
This is certainly the case with Yebba, the daughter of a preacher from West Memphis, Arkansas. The singer, whose real name is Abbey Smith, is not a whole new face. I tipped her on this page two years ago, and she’s a guest on songs by Ed Sheeran, Stormzy, Mumford & Sons and Drake.
His first album, Dawn, has been in the works for four years, but his long gestation has only sharpened his extraordinary talent. With Ronson bringing together an exceptional band, including bassist Pino Palladino and Roots drummer Questlove, it’s not an easy record to pin down.
When producer Mark Ronson – who has worked with Amy Winehouse, Adele and Lady Gaga – describes a singer as “one of the best I’ve ever had the luxury of being on the other side of the glass”, he is time to take note. Pictured: Singer Yebba, whose debut album is produced by Ronson
If Winehouse’s roots were in soul and jazz, Yebba’s are in gospel and blues. But the 26-year-old (whose stage name is Abbey spelled backwards) is also adept at singing folk music and piano ballads.
The unifying factor is his agile voice. She learned to sing in church and her multi-octave range allows her to effortlessly transition from a hoarse tone to a Mariah Carey soprano. Single syllable words are regularly stretched into longer expressions, but Yebba also knows how to avoid showboating.
His songs are also loaded with emotion. Several songs, including the opening How Many Years, address the suicide death of her mother in 2016.
October Sky is built around powerful childhood memories: Yebba’s mother, Dawn, was a science teacher who brought back flares from school. The title of the album, while signifying a new beginning, pays homage to him.
Elsewhere, Boomerang is a revenge fantasy inspired by a friend’s toxic relationship, while Distance is a rare love song, albeit about an inappropriate suitor.
With Palladino and Questlove adding jazzy touches – and Yebba hitting impressive high notes – this completes a debut heralding the arrival of a dazzling new voice.
It looks like sci-fi-trending albums will be big this fall, with Coldplay’s Music Of The Spheres mentioning the planet Neptune and the Voyager space probe.
But Chris Martin’s band were propelled to the cosmic position by the newly formed duo H3000, whose self-titled debut album examines themes of love and loss in a futuristic setting.
Singer Luke Steele (of Australian dance duo Empire Of The Sun) and producer Jarrad Rogers met in the adopted town of Luke, LA, but their slow-burning, synthesized skits like H3000 are one world away from the Californian sun and surf.
Singer Luke Steele (of Australian dance duo Empire Of The Sun) and producer Jarrad Rogers have met in Luke, LA hometown, but their slow-burn and synth skits are a far cry from the Californian sun and surf. .
The vibe is soulful and euphoric, with enough warmth in Steele’s performance to reiterate that electronic music isn’t always cool and detached.
This week’s singles
Chaka Khan is set to reclaim her crown as queen of funk with a soulful new single When The Time Comes.
Punctuated by a flute solo and punchy brass, the song – taken from the film adaptation of the West End musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – sees Chicago legend, on the right, reproducing the flavor of 1980s hits such that Ain’t Nobody.
Soul star Alicia Keys is also back in the groove. She teamed up with Swae Lee, a rapper with a melodious touch, on Lala. The couple’s sensual duo nod to the ballads of Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye from the 1970s.
Chaka Khan set to reclaim her funk queen crown with touching new single When the Time Comes
Two seasoned rockers are also back. Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder is gearing up for his new solo album, Earthling, with Long Way, rock number from heart, while Billy Idol releases his first new music in seven years on the four-track EP Roadside. The former Gen X singer is still an outright rock ‘n’ roller, but there is an introspective tinge to the track Bitter Taste.
And the prolific Sufjan Stevens continues to release new songs from his upcoming Hollywood-themed duet album with fellow singer-songwriter Angelo De Augustine: the acoustic ballad Cimmerian Shade is inspired by Silence Of The Lambs; the more moody You Give Death A Bad Name is inspired by the 1968 horror classic Night Of The Living Dead. The album, A Beginner’s Mind, will be released next Friday.