Fleetwood Mac Say You Will
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Filter Albums: Fleetwood Mac – Say You Will

Fleetwood Mac Say You Will (2003)Their first new material since 1987’s Tango in the Night. Sheryl Crow guests.

**** (Four stars)

With the pomp of Dallas, the longevity of Coronation Street, and the incestuous bent of EastEnders, Fleetwood Mac remain rock’s greatest soap opera. This latest instalment is something of a Buckingham-Nicks spin-off, the departure of Christine McVie meaning fewer keyboards and far more guitars.

In terms of man-hours spent, it’s predominately Lindsey Buckingham’s baby, his protracted studio beavering going back at least six years, and now exhuming a number of songs originally slated for a solo album. When factors too complex to probe here made the Mac viable again, Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie then began working on old and new songs of Stevie Nicks‘, and Stevie sang on Lindsey’s stuff. Reprise staff dreamt of Christmas bonuses, and the Mac’s various managers thrashed out the percentages. One suspects that the precision of Nicks and Buckingham’s nine songs apiece tally is not a mere happenstance.

Enough already with the cynicism, though, because Say You Will is anything but a half-baked cash-in. Digesting its 18 tracks might be a python-swallows-gazelle task, but having done so, you’ll recognise a meticulously-honed blend of strong pop songs and Buckingham-led envelope-pushing. The title track, “Steal Your Heart Away and “What the World Coming To” are harmony-rich gems which sound chart-bound, while Nicks’ 9/11 response, “Illume,” and Buckingham’s US media critique, “Murrow Turning Over in His Grave,” lend edge and weight. Nicks’ lyrics and phrasing on the former are particularly strong, transforming what might otherwise have been a decent groove track into something special.

Nicks has said, incidentally, that “Thrown Down” is about former beau Lindsey Buckingham, and it’s probably no accident that several other lyrics on SYW could be interpreted as further musings on the pair’s tempestuous, long-since-over romance. A crafty way of boosting this soap opera’s ratings, perhaps, but the music speaks for itself.

Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham talk to James McNair. Separately.

Can you and Lindsey talk about your relationship more openly now?

SN: “You want the truth? We don’t talk a lot about our past. It’s like: do we need to go there? It’s just upsetting for both of us. I think we try to live above that and realise it was a long time ago and there’s nothing we can do to fix it. And it hasn’t turned out so bad, has it? We have really good, balanced lives now, and we’re still able to make music together. Apart from being married and having our own family, what more could Lindsey and I have asked for?”

Do fans still tend to assume that relationship-dissecting lyrics you’ve written are about Stevie?

LB: “Probably. And some of Stevie’s may be about me. Why ‘may be’? Because it’s not for me to say, even if I suspect some of them are. There are songs Stevie has written all throughout our relationship which I assumed were about me, then discovered that they weren’t, or that they were hybrids [laughs]. I can be as confused about that stuff as the fans, believe me.”

James McNair / MOJO (Issue 114) / May 2003



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