Since he surfaced into the public consciousness through his work with Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey Buckingham has established himself as a one-of-a-kind talent. His offbeat arrangements, quirky but deeply personal lyrics, and superior guitar playing exemplify an artist who enjoys taking chances. From his ambitious Fleetwood Mac projects like Tusk to his eclectic solo career, Buckingham continues forging his own path. His sixth solo album, Seeds We Sow, furthers this journey with an intimate sound and superior musicianship.
For the first time, Buckingham is releasing the album on his own label, and took full reins on producing, mixing, and performing. These changes enhance the deeply intimate listening experience—the quiet, subtle arrangements place Buckingham’s multidimensional voice and intricate guitar picking up front. Unlike the lush production of his 1981 hit “Trouble” or the almost robotic feel of 1984′s “Go Insane,” Buckingham performs delicate ballads like the title track, his hammering of the guitar strings enhancing the pain expressed in the lyrics:
Soldiers of fortune they do conceal
Everything they’re afraid to show
Everything they once gave now they just steal
Oh the seeds we sow
“Stars Are Crazy,” another ballad, sounds strangely hypnotic with Buckingham’s dizzyingly fast guitar plucking and his soaring voice. Similarly, “When She Comes Down” is propelled by a gentle rhythm, his multi-tracked vocals floating ethereally over the gentle acoustic guitar.
That pounding, rhythmic sound continues on “In Our Own Time,” with Buckingham expressing frustration with a glimmer of hope: “It wouldn’t make any difference we crossed that line/From the fire we will rise again in our own time.”
While he performs dark, stripped-down material on Seeds We Sow, fans of Buckingham’s more mainstream work will find much to like. “Illumination” is slightly reminiscent of “Trouble” in its tight harmonies and pop hooks and memorable chords, while the uptempo “That’s the Way That Love Goes” sounds like an edgier track off Rumours. Here, Buckingham demonstrates the range of his voice’s inflections—he can sound soft and tender one moment, then radiate anger in another. “I’d like to take your pain away,” he croons in the beginning, leading to him chanting “In the dungeon couldn’t believe it no/Took a look and then saw your secret” in the chorus. Fleetwood Mac fans will particularly appreciate “Rock Away Blind,” which sounds like an update of “Second Hand News” minus the strong drums. One can definitely picture Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, John McVie, and Mick Fleetwood providing harmonies and adding more heft to the song on future Fleetwood Mac reunion tours.
Buckingham may write and perform delicate ballads, but “One Take” demonstrates that he can still rock. The rage present in such tracks as “Wrong” from his underrated 1992 album Out of the Cradle shines here. “No I have no reputation and I’m not on any list/That’s because I’ve got a publicist who covers up the avarice of where I put my fist,” he spits out. “And if you don’t see me it doesn’t mean I’m not there/It only means that when I steal from you I don’t want you to know because I really really care.” His lyrics apparently address greed and recklessness, arguing the need for moral responsibility. Interestingly, “Gone Too Far” immediately follows, with Buckingham crying for redemption: “Save me/It’s gone too far,” he cries over perhaps the most lush arrangement on the entire album.
Perhaps no other track summarizes Seeds We Sow’s overall theme of reflection than “End of Time,” which could be seen as a companion piece to “In Our Own Time.” Like the latter song, “End of Time” expresses both despair and hope for our current times:
Sliding down the karma slide
Seems like it never ends
When we get to the other side
Maybe then we’ll make amends
The midtempo song finds Buckingham musing on his mortality, longing for his youth. However, he sings, “When they finally come to bury us/Maybe then we’ll tell the truth.” Overall, he argues, love transcends death: “Even though I may be dead and gone/And though we may be far apart/My love for you is strong.” Is redemption possible, both in love and life? Buckingham poses these questions in Seeds We Sow, but does not provide answers. Still, even the title Seeds We Sow challenges listeners to ponder these complicated issues.
Buckingham’s work with Fleetwood Mac certainly merits its critical and commercial success. But his fascinating solo catalog should not be overlooked, and Seeds We Sow ranks as his most sophisticated and intriguing album to date.