Album review: CHRISTINE McVIE – Songbird: A Solo Collection

CHRISTINE McVIE – Songbird: A Solo Collection

Rhino/Warner [Release date 24.6.22]

This is the first release to bear Christine McVie’s name since her excellent 2017 collaboration with Lindsey Buckingham (which was essentially a Fleetwood Mac album without Stevie Nicks).

“Songbird” contains a remixed selection from her 1984 and 2004 solo albums, along with two previously unreleased tracks and a newly orchestrated version of the title track. The booklet includes an in-depth interview by Johnnie Walker, where the background to each song is discussed in detail.

Opening proceedings here, as indeed it did on 2004’s rather overlooked “In The Meantime” album, is the stunning ‘Friend’. A soaring, catchy number, if McVie had still been part of Fleetwood Mac at the time then it would have slotted perfectly onto their “Say You Will” album. Next up, from the same album, is the more mellow ‘Sweet Revenge’.

This collection has been produced and remixed by Glyn Johns, with Guy Fletcher and Ethan Johns adding new instrumentation to the majority of tracks. This helps to give the 1980’s era cuts a more contemporary feel, and also achieves the goal of making this sound like a fairly seamless mix of songs.

The uptempo ‘The Challenge’ dates from 1984’s “Christine McVie” long player and features a distinctive Eric Clapton guitar accompaniment, as well as backing vocals by Lindsey Buckingham. From the same source is the atmospheric Steve Winwood co-write ‘Ask Anybody’, which includes some fine piano synthesizer from Winwood, much in line with the sound of his own solo releases from that period.

The previously unreleased ‘Slow Down’ was originally written for the film American Flyers but never used. A fun and lively, almost power pop, song, it’s been given an added country feel courtesy of Ethan Johns’ slide guitar.

The other cuts from “In The Meantime” are the beautiful love song ‘Northern Star’ (written by her nephew Dan Perfect, who was co-producer and guitarist on that album), the bluesy ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’, and the laidback ‘Givin’ It Back’ which was co-written with one-time Fleetwood Mac guitarist Billy Burnette.

‘All You Gotta Do’, a groovy duet with bass player George Hawkins, dates from the 2004 sessions too but is released for the first time here.

The album climaxes with a new orchestral version of the classic ‘Songbird’. Isolating the vocal track from the “Rumours” version, a string arrangement has been added by Vince Mendoza. It gives the song a stunning new dimension and is the perfect closer to a very diverse selection. ****

Review by Jim Henderson

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