As a big Mac fan (see what I did there?! ha ha I'm hilarious...) I had a few doubts about this 2003 outing. Why? Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie were missing s link in the chain-Christine McVie. After taking her retirement from the band after The Dance tour in 1997, I didn't think the rest of the band would record another album without her. But here they were, recording a fresh set of tracks in 2002 for their first outing minus Ms McVie. And I think they did pretty well. 18 tracks fitted onto the CD, nine by Nicks and nine by Buckingham.
Although Christine's absence is felt, Buckingham and Nicks manage well with just each other. Buckingham's "Red Rover," demonstrates his skill with a guitar-minus plectrums, as always-as does the excellent and extremely sweet "Say Goodbye." Buckingham's versatility as a writer comes through in his songs on this album, which range from the dark toned "Come," to the bittersweet "Bleed To Love," (which was actually recorded in 1997 when Christine was still with the band-and it is one of my favourite songs on the album, and a reason for this is due to the presence of her vocals). Another strong song of Lindsey's is the opening track of the album, "What's The World Coming To." Both he and Nicks penned tracks which could be seen as their reflection on the world after 9/11, and the title of this song gives away its meaning.
As usual Stevie Nicks' has her poetic imagery running through all of the tracks on this album. Although the title track, Say You Will, does not hold a lot of this it is still a great piece of work. "Illume (9/11)," her first song on the album, brings the listener back into the world of the infamous gypsy poet herself. However her stand out pieces on the album would have to be Smile At You and Running Through The Garden, which are worth comparing with her classic Fleetwood Mac songs. Nicks's trademark husky vocals soar over Lindsey's guitar picking in "Smile At You," "Thrown Down," and the beautiful "Goodbye Baby," at the very end of the album.
Lindsey and Christine's vocals had complimented each other so well on past Mac records so their duetting was a feature that I missed here. McVie had a tendency to write uplifting songs that fitted in perfectly with Stevie and Lindsey's more melancholy songs. Seeing as Nicks and Buckingham were always two extreme artists writing on many problems (Lindsey's feelings came through in his playing, Stevie's in her sometimes cryptic and confusing lyrics) Christine McVie stood as a key link between the two and somehow without her keyboards and vocals, the Mac just wasn't the same on this album as before.
That being said, Say You Will is still an excellent album showing Buckingham, Nicks, Fleetwood and McVie at their best. The voices of the two singers aren't what they used to be but they still hold well under the test of time. And the legendary rhythm section that is Mick Fleetwood and John McVie doesn't let down on his record either. An excellent album with tracks that could easily join their predecessors in the group of classic Fleetwood Mac, the only thing I have left so say is-Christine McVie you are deeply missed so please come back!!!