So cool, calm, collected: Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie

Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie – Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie

The pair has written songs before: the simmering little jam called “World Turning” on Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks’ first record with Fleetwood Mac in 1975; the opalescent “Mystified” and “Isn’t It Midnight” on Tango in the Night, the latter a fascinating mixture of bemusement and power chord riffage; and two parts of that album’s “You and I,” with the first marooned on a B-side because to my ears its glistening snake-in-the-tall-grass atmosphere upset Tango’s already bestirred surface.

On this, their first official collaboration, Buckingham and Christine McVie sound like survivors of a civil war, the fighting of which consumed years of blood and treasure. If the album is often so mild that it dissolves, give the credit to its makers, who still have nerves to feel — and feel deeply. Intimations of a life spent in pursuit of passion, of being subject and object, distinguish “Carnival Begin.” When McVie sings, “I want it all!” in the chorus, it’s startling to hear a woman over seventy making putative pop music sharing her needs. On the collaboration “Feel About You,” the playful-Muppet backup vocals with which 1987’s “Everywhere” ended complement a Buckingham guitar line that’s the aural equivalent of what McVie calls “honey in my tea” (he plays a similar beaut on “On With the Show,” where his instrument rings like a dinner bell). Their band’s rhythm section plays on most of the tracks. Was there ever a more aptly named drummer? Fleet, solid as wood. “Red Sun” could be a latter-day Mac track had Stevie Nicks contributed her emulsifying harmonies.

A habitual donor of tracks intended for mysterious solo albums, Buckingham’s best is “Love Is Here to Stay,” another triumph for his endless supply of finger-picked arpeggios; if “Carnival Begin” showed a McVie still committed to the carnal, “Love Is Here to Stay” is Buckingham pledging his troth. He’s not walking thin lines or yelling about big big love anymore, and if he’s going his own way it’s home. A Buckingham celebrating domestic tranquility is disturbing in its own way.

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