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Oakland Tribune, The (CA)

January 16, 2007

Section: Bay Area Living

Fleetwood Mac star (and Atherton native) personalizes solo CD

WHENEVER he gets away from his responsibilities in Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey Buckingham has always gone his own way.

"It's not like Fleetwood Mac is about any one thing," he says, "but certainly, if you cut to the chase, it's about the bottom line in a lot of people's minds. Whatever I might be interested in is not. So you have to make the choice and then fight the fight."

For "Under the Skin," his first solo album in 14 years, the Atherton native has stripped the music to its essential elements: Buckingham's intensely personal lyrics over his accomplished acoustic finger-picking, with no drums or bass.

"If I had wanted this album to reach the broadest audience it could have, I would have made a more normal album," he says.

Instead, it's an intimate portrait of the artist as a middle-age man, a once-restless rock star who seems to have found both creative and personal fulfillment at age 57.

Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac in 1974, along with fellow Menlo-Atherton High School alum Stevie Nicks, and his songs, voice, guitar prowess and production skills helped transform a fairly successful British blues-rock band into an L.A.-based pop-rock juggernaut.

The band hasn't been Buckingham's only outlet. He has released four solo albums in the years since, and left the band entirely from 1987 to 1997, but both Fleetwood Mac and Buckingham have found more commercial success together than apart.

The new album's first song, "Not Too Late," was inspired by an article in Rolling Stone that Buckingham read while on tour with Fleetwood Mac. It opens, "Reading the paper saw a review/Said I was a visionary, but nobody knew."

Buckingham makes clear that "visionary" was critic Bud Scoppa's word, not his own, but he expresses pride in having stuck to his artistic guns over the years, despite pressures that come with being part of a successful band.

"When you are in a situation where you are defining yourself in ways that others do not wish you to define yourself, you have to be your own best booster, because there's really not going to be anyone else," he says. "Especially when it's pitted against some large machine like Fleetwood Mac."

The song also introduces the album's key theme: family. It's the first album he's made since getting married and having kids — now ages 8, 6 and 2 — and his family's presence is felt throughout the album, both in the lyrics and in the photos that illustrate the booklet.

"It Was You" plainly and directly expresses gratitude to his wife and the family she gave him, in a multitude of overdubbed Buckingham vocals. The album closes with "Flying Down Juniper," a song inspired by childhood memories of riding bikes down Juniper Drive in Atherton.

"It ran right into the front of our house, so any time we would leave and go out into that world, we were going down Juniper Drive," he says. "It really was just a thing of thinking about childhood and those times, and how magical they seem. And family."

Buckingham plans to tour the new album through July and then to record another solo album, expected to come out early in 2008. Then he'll return to his more lucrative job.

"I'm just trying to give myself the window to complete these projects properly," says Buckingham, who on multiple occasions has seen his own solo projects cannibalized into Fleetwood Mac albums. "And then we'll see what Fleetwood Mac wants to do after that."