You could drive a convertible down a bucolic country road on a sparkling summer day. You could take a stroll along an unspoiled tropical beach on a starry night. Or you could settle into your favorite chair and listen to this third solo outing from Lindsey Buckingham, former guitarist of the late unlamented supergroup Fleetwood Mac. Whichever you choose, you'll soon be feeling that, despite its bad publicity, earth isn't such a bad place after all.
Nobody in pop music these days creates better feel-good melodies than Buckingham (who wrote or cowrote 11 of the 13 songs here, including six with partner Richard Dashut). The only bad thing you can say about the project is that it took too long to arrive: It's been eight years since Buckingham released his last solo record (Go Insane), five since he left Fleetwood Mac. If Out of the Cradle has had an unusually long gestation, it's a very healthy baby.
The record is enhanced by quirky guitar intros and songs brimming with the sort of aural oddities that mark Buckingham's style. Familiar and fetching hooks are turned into something new, thanks to the thick layer of guitar effects that replicate everything from harp to mandolin to power drill.
Whether the song skips along like the sweet-natured, Top 40—friendly "Don't Look Down" and "Countdown" or crawls like the quiet and contemplative "All My Sorrows" and "Streets of Dreams," the melodies nuzzle up irresistibly against your brain.
Buckingham tilled Out of the Cradle well. Not only is his career reborn, the music has all the innocence, charm and energy of a toddler. (Reprise)
JOHN McVIE'S GOTTA BAND WITH LOLA THOMAS
Lindsey Buckingham was always the guy who put the best music into Fleetwood Mac, so it's no surprise he's done well on his own. But what about the guy who put the Mac in Fleetwood Mac—John McVie? Unfortunately, he doesn't fare nearly so well on his first post-Mac effort.
This attempt at bluesy barroom bump and grind is about as gritty as, say, Amy Grant covering Janis Joplin. As a vocalist, singer Lola Thomas is reminiscent of Cher, not exactly the ultimate blues singer, and the songs are pleasant but not particularly compelling. Listening to the Gotta Band is like ordering a nonalcoholic beer. It tastes sort of like the real stuff, but the kick is missing. (Warner Bros.)