REVIEW BY: David Bowling
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/13/2007
Bare Trees, more than any other Fleetwood Mac album, is a Danny Kirwan creation. Kirwan takes responsibility for six of the 10 songs on the album, and such extended exposure shows Kirwan’s strengths and accents his weaknesses.
Kirwan has always been an excellent and underrated guitarist. His crisp, clear style and ability to write catchy melodies served Fleetwood Mac well over the years. Kirwan’s main problem is that he is a weak lyricist, though it's not enough to sink this effort.
“Sunny Side Of Heaven” shows Kirwan’s guitar playing at his best. This instrumental soars into the upper ranges and produces a sound that few guitarists have been able to copy. Yet “Child Of Mine” and “Danny’s Chant” show Kirwan’s guitar-lyric tug of war. “Danny’s Chant” has a weird vocal, which drives attention away from some of Kirwan’s best Fleetwood Mac guitar playing.
“Thoughts On A Grey Day” probably is the best all around song on Bare Trees. It finds an introspective Kirwan, which is a good counterpoint to the rest of the album’s music. “Dust” contains lyrics by poet Rupert Brooke and the title track, which opens the album, has the usual fine guitar but get bogged down with more poetry read by the elderly poet herself.
Bob Welch adds two songs to Bare Trees. There is an early incarnation of “Sentimental Lady” which would undergo a more pop revision during his solo career, while “The Ghost” is an interesting, if out of place, alternative rock-type song.
Chistine McVie continues her musical evolution on Bare Trees. “Homeward Bound” is a commendable rock effort that looks ahead to her brilliant work with the later Fleetwood Mac. “Spare Me A Little Of Your Love” is a generic pop love song and is one of her weaker efforts.
Kirwan was fired shortly after Bare Trees was released. His musical output and contributions to Fleetwood Mac have been largely forgotten over the years as the group has moved on to superstardom, and he deserves better than that. Sure, he was not a genius, but was an excellent musician who could produce very good and at times brilliant material.
Bare Trees shows Danny Kirwan as he was, Fleetwood Mac as it was and as such is still worth a listen now and then.