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Christine McVie is no stranger to soft rock and roll music having written a few memorable songs herself with the UK/US band Fleetwood Mac. Whilst she retired publicly in 1997 at Fleetwood Macs last official tour as the original 1975 line up Rumours era, McVie took a rest before deciding to write for the band even though she doesnt appear. However when I heard that she was about to pen her own solo album, I grew hesitant but excited all the same. Whilst there have been great songs with Fleetwood Mac, Ive always thought her solo music fell into a closer easy listening style rather than the styles such as Everywhere, Little Lies, and You Make Lovin Fun, have straddled, although Songbird, seems to be one of the most famous songs no doubt lifted from its dry hall acoustic by Eva Cassidys heart warming version.
To date Christine has released three solo albums; one from her days with blues based band Chicken Shack, a solo album in the 1980s engineered by keyboard impresario Steve Winwood and a few solos by Eric Clapton (and thus would launch two songs including the title song, Got a Hold on Me) and this new album engineered and produced by Christines brother, Dan Perfect. Whilst her brother is not afraid to call this album stunning, in the linear/CD album booklet it is by far one of the better albums Ive heard so far which carries the Christine McVie name and there are some surprising moments from Christine, in some easy listening styles which is therefore easy to slide into the easy listening category rather than the soft honky tonk rock style she is known for. This album cost me £9-99 from a private seller on Amazon.
The album also welcomes back Billy Burnette who had completed the Tango in The Night, tour as well as the Greg Ladanyi produced album of 1990, Behind the Mask.
There are no long drawn out stories of mystical hope here, no stories made up of fantasy or freedom a la Stevie Nicks style, but going back down to the basics of rocky rhythms fuelled by thick piano harmonies and Christines somewhat low, alto voice accompanying it makes you think what other artists such as Dido see themselves as. Those looking for a bit more in terms of electronic effects may well be disappointed but it is easy to pigeon hole this album into a category of Easy Listening, rather than rock and roll.
2. You Are
3. Northern Star
4. Bad Journey
5. Anything is Possible
7. So Sincere
8. Easy Come Easy Go
10. Sweet Revenge
12. Givin It Back
One of the things which is really recognisable from a Christine McVie song is a solid bass line from the guitar, no doubt influenced by her ex husband John McVie, rock style piano chords, and plenty of tambourine. Now thats a shocker, because whilst most fans associate Stevie Nicks with the tambourine shaking motif from the band, even as far back as the 1980s album, McVies solo album then had plenty of 12 and 16 beat tambourine playing on it. To the ears of a Fleetwood Mac fan youll hear plenty of elements which are familiar, even from the thick low backing vocals which swoop and swoon back out. This album has a lot of McVie hallmarks as a result.
As a fan I cant help but wonder if some of the songs on this album were lifted or written after the 1980s album as one song in particular, called Love Will Show Us How have familiar verses and choruses to some of the songs on this album and the first couple of songs dont appear new here even if there is some evidence of scat singing at the start and finish of the song.
You Are, was the first song which got me into buying this album for example, having seen and heard it online as a sampler to the album, I love the way it starts even if the electric guitar sounds moronic against a basic strumming acoustic guitar. For fans of Christine McVie there is a lot which can be identified within the structure of this piece, with certain elements of Nights of Estoril, on Fleetwood Macs 1995 ill-received album, Time.
Northern Star, is a change of scenery, a slow ballad song which Christine could have asked Stevie Nicks to sing with her its very slow and has a dry feel to it no doubt thanks to dry studio in which the song was recorded in. But as it starts, one cant help but feel that the chorus should come in earlier. Again it doesnt appear fresh here sounding like Whos Dreaming This Dream ... from her previous album if only slightly different thanks to a creamy electric keyboard solo. Bad Journey, suffers from not enough reverb and interesting backing vocals or at least some spice to change this song of revenge into a stronger motif of hate. One of the best moments in this song however is the fact that you may not need to see any video of this song, let alone a live performance; you can almost picture Christine smiling at parts in the song, as the gloss and juice of her voice come together easily even though there are moments perhaps of reality and truth emerging through the verses and there are other songs where you can picture Christine smiling.
Anything is Possible, is a slightly better song, starting with a good funky bass line and accompaniment helped along by some slap bass lines additionally heard. Some interesting moments however do come to light such as the short and sweet backing vocals, a small bridge in the middle with a groovy guitar solo and Christines keyboard chords....but then it becomes longer with a guitar solo rising and dipping before the chorus comes back in. Calumny, is a sweet song of love, and a song which I love to listen to as it reminds me of a modernised version of Warm Ways, or even Brown Eyes, from Fleetwood Macs experimental 1979 album, Tusk. Regardless, its a sweet slow ballad and typical of Christines hand even though it isnt a song which is not written by her but by her brother. What makes it appealing is the overlapping and fading in of backing vocals, synth strings and a beautiful chordal progression as the songs lyrical content wraps itself around the way of the turning harmonies. If there is only one aspect which I dont like about this song its the use of percussion pipes, or the sound of electronic xylophones which date this song too early on unfortunately but it remains a brilliant song amongst the mixed content on this album. So Sincere, reminds me of a song written by Never the Bride, a band whose content of influences stem more than just Melissa Etheridge. However its never a good idea to follow on with a slow ballad and move onto another one. There is however a constant shimmering quality from this song which sounds like Brown Eyes, from Fleetwood Macs Tusk, album and that cant be overlooked. It is a pity that it ends on a weak ending. And the next song is no better, Easy Come Easy Go, as the listener is faced with a strange keyboard part which fades in by the second verse and gives it a spooky feeling even if the song has simple lyrics. Then it is replaced by the endless chorus and vocals which never change.
Who is the song Liar, written for? It must create some kind of drama for Fleetwood Mac/Christine McVie fans. This is the kind of the song which fans of Chicken Shack may well love, not for the sheer reason that it moves musically away from her blues originality, but simply for the blue notes Christine puts into the song musically. And from there the style of the album starts to change rapidly, going from a 1990s feel, to 1980s, 1970s and 1960s because the next song Sweet Revenge, also breathes familiarity, similar to the title song, Heroes are Hard to Find, from Fleetwood Macs 1960s days album. It would probably be a good song to listen to if driving, but it doesnt touch my soul as much as the other songs on this album have so far done.
Forgiveness, could well have been written along the lines of I could be so good for you, from the Minder TV series, because there is a British sounding style rocking which bounces this song along. It works well but its a bit late on this album and sounds like a 1980s love song. Talking of which, Givin It Back, is a sweet song despite its plea in love, faith or just friendship. It is a typical Christine McVie song with strong backing choruses of vocals which clouds and drowns the music in a creamy, romantic way rather than volatile. Certainly as the end song, it marks the end of an interesting album, but nothing which shouts from the rooftops that this is a definite purchase earmarked by fans looking for songs which could have been on another Fleetwood Mac album but never got there.
** Album Inlay **
A few photos of Christine are included in the glossy silver and black CD inlay booklet and whilst the lyrics have also been included they are really difficult to read as they have been printed in light silver upon dark silver; not that you would want to read the lyrics anyway as there are no eye opening moments here of fluid poetry and it seems this artist still reverts to using simplistic rhyming lines rather than anything which is deep and meaningful but maybe this is a distinct characteristic of Christine McVie.
** Conclusion **
As a fan of Fleetwood Mac it is easy to pass by or dismiss how bad this album really is. I really want to warm to Christine on this album I really do - or perhaps to admire and congratulate her on releasing an album In the meantime, whilst Fleetwood Mac battle it out themselves into joining together for another album.
Whilst there are some fantastic songs on here, there are some really mundane lyrics and although it is good to hear the changes in Christines voice where on Fleetwood Mac I never got to hear the gloss of her voice, the mixed characters of the songs on this album to conclude are not inspiring enough to consider buying this album unless you are a big fan of Fleetwood Mac music in general OR love the calming quality of Christine's husky, romantic voice. The problem is that some songs sound too dated which is a pity although Im sure In the Meantime serves up a good plate of mixed flavours, but nothing you will likely to remember in the long term. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2007
For samples of the songs, you can visit:
In the Meantime, by Christine McVie
Released 21 June 2004
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 You Are
3 Northern Star
4 Bad Journey
5 Anything Is Possible
7 So Sincere
8 Easy Come, Easy Go
10 Sweet Revenge
12 Givin' It Back