Album Review: Christine McVie

During 1984, there was a break between Fleetwood Mac albums Mirage (1982) and Tango In The Night (1987) where several of the members of the band tried their hand at solo albums.  The efforts of Stevie Nicks were the most commercially successful, but achieving two top 40 hits of her own was Christine McVie [1], who is apparently one of the most rare mainstream pop/rock acts to set up a station for on Pandora–I know because I did and there are far fewer people who do this than who set up stations for obscure 80’s one hit wonder new wave acts.  I’m not sure why this is the case, but when it comes to music, you know what you are getting on this album–a lot of tasteful piano ballads about the triumphs and travails of love.  What’s not to like about that?  It was not even Christine McVie’s first (or last) stab at a solo career–she has had three solo albums so far in a discography that spans from the late 1960’s to the 2000’s.  Here is the album track by track:

Love Will Show Us How:  A song about faithfulness and loyalty, this song was the second top 40 hit single off of this album, and it is an upbeat and charming song that reflects McVie’s essentially honest approach to life and love.  Even thirty years later it is a catchy an upbeat song that overcomes being dated like many of its contemporaries.

The Challenge:  The song is a touching and beautiful ballad that discusses the challenge of contentment in a world of heartache.  The singer/songwriter expresses her history of loneliness and her own longings for a lasting love, something that resonates well.

So Excited:  This upbeat song with country/folk elements expresses the excitement the singer/songwriter feels about being with her partner.  It’s the sort of beautiful song that could have and should have been a hit and one that remains enjoyable for its subtle touches even now.

One In A Million (w/Steve Winwood):  With an ominous musical background and thoughtful harmonization between McVie and Steve Winwood, this song is poignant advice from the singers to a friend to return the love that is given and not to turn it down and reject it, which is definitely a sentiment I can get behind in a song that packs some serious punch.

Ask Anybody:  This is a moving song with spare instrumentation and ghostly backing vocals, this is a song about being loyal to a relationship that everyone else wants the narrator to get out of because she believes that the relationship is worth saving despite its problems.  This is a surprisingly poignant song full of realism about the darker side of relationships.

Got A Hold On Me:  This beautiful and layered song about the powerful effect of love on someone who has a somewhat dark personal history was a top ten hit it off of this album and it remains a beautiful song today.  In fact, this was the song I chose as the basis of my Christine McVie Pandora station, as strange as it may seem.

Who’s Dreaming This Dream?:  This song, a beautiful song with backing vocals by McVie and Lindsey Buckingham, is about the tension where someone longs for someone who shares the same dream that they do about having a relationship together.  Despite the melancholy of the song’s material, it remains a beautiful tune that should have been a hit.

I’m The One:  A lovely song with simple and straightforward instrumentation, McVie sings full of confidence about being the one to calm the late night sorrows of her partner.  It is refreshing to hear McVie sing with such self-command about her abilities to bring out the best in a partner.

Keeping Secrets:  This song is a surprisingly jaunty song about the conflict between McVie’s desire to be upfront and honest with her partner and the fact that the two of them are keeping secrets with each other.  This song, with some ghostly backing vocals, helps to bring cohesion to an album that explores the ups and downs of love.

The Smile I Live For:  A lovely song with surprisingly dark instrumentation, this song reflects the singer’s realization that love is what makes life worth living in a complicated dance between two skittish hearts.  The song is a compelling way to end an album, full of beautiful elements and layers and solid production.

There have been some critical complaints about this album not having a very diverse range of songs to work effectively outside of the context of Fleetwood Mac, but on the contrary, this album is cohesive, focused on beautiful and elegant love songs that run the gamut between happy and deeply melancholy.  McVie is a songwriter with a particular range and an intense focus on the triumphs and trials of love and relationships and this album is one that was mildly popular at the time and that should be better remembered today, at least for the half a dozen songs on here that deserve radio airplay:  the two hits, So Excited, Who’s Dreaming This Dream, One In A Million, and the dark Ask Anybody.  This album is one of the more obscure gems of the mid 1980’s.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in History, Love & Marriage, Music History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Album Review: Christine McVie

  1. Pingback: Album Review: In The Meantime | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: You Can Talk To Me | Edge Induced Cohesion

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