Christine McVie sounds like no one else in rock-n-roll. Her soft, low alto always emits genuine emotional textures, whether they be joyously upbeat or darkly moody. Moreover, her expert songwriting skills usually invigorate every Mac outing with at least four great songs. All this, and yet she still insists upon handing much of the limelight to her fellow bandmates. Indeed, McVie's greatest weakness is her retiring, almost apologetic presence on the pop-rock scene. She has all the charisma and talent to forge a great solo career. But, as of yet, this record stands as one of only two releases in the last thirty years to spotlight her unique musical gifts.
It's not a bad album. Those songs in which she actively takes the vocal fore are the strongest. Whether she is duetting a hard-core blues with Steve Windwood ("One in a Million") or offering a mysteriously sexy vocal on "Ask Anybody," McVie is well equipped to deliver the goods. Her pop craftsmanship is present on "The Challenge" and "Got a Hold on Me," two equisitely charming songs. Her best songs are as good as anything Bacharach could have written.
Her worst moments are those when she hands the limelight to her sidemen. All bandmates are more than capable performers. But do we need to hear songs penned by weak songwriters. "I'm the One," "Who's Dreaming this Dream," and "Keeping Secrets," are all written by other no-names--and all are hopelessly generic, bland. Was she doing her friends a favor? Did she run out of material? No one will know. If she needed more material, she could have plunged the songbooks of more capable artists.
Thankfully, the recording ends with "The Smile I Live For," a somber, majestic ballad that shows off McVie's vocal, instrumental, and songwriting skills to great effect. It's penned by her, perhaps the clearest testament that McVie shines best when performing her own material.