Under the Skin
A man and his lone guitar. For his fourth solo album, Buckingham has decided to eschew a backing band and let his considerable guitar skills and his voice flesh out his dreamy personal songs.
Since this is Lindsey Buckingham we are discussing, the eleven songs on Under the Skin are skillfully embellished with layers of textured vocals and highly deft guitar work. The man is obviously at the top of his game and despite the austere presentation, each track rings round with Buckingham’s customary attention to detail and artistic flourishes.
And just because the main instrument is an acoustic guitar does not necessarily mean that the mood is folky. Take the opening “Not Too Late” with its much quoted “Reading the paper saw a review/Said I was a visionary, but nobody knew/Now that’s been a problem/Feeling unseen/Just like I’m living somebody’s dream” as Buckingham lays bare his soul in visceral tones as the distorted vocals spit out his confusion, “What am I doing anyway/Telling myself it’s not too late.”
Here is a prominent member of one of the best-selling rock bands of all time (in his late 50s, mind), confessing his dilemma of not being able to stand out on his own – apart from his identity as the guitarist of Fleetwood Mac. Intriguing.
The rest of Under the Skin adopts this confessional tone but emotions get less frayed and melancholy and the music lightens up considerably the longer the album plays. The warm country tune “Down On Rodeo” even features Mick Fleetwood & John McVie (and naturally sounds like a Fleetwood Mac song), the pensive “Someone’s Gotta Change Your Mind” and the gorgeous breezy “Flying Down Juniper” all make for a nice resolution to this significant work.
Buckingham has promised a more conventional rock album ‘soon’ – we hope it certainly does not take another 14 years! In the meantime, savour the wonders and joys of Under the Skin. A+