The Mick Fleetwood Band

Something Big

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Although Something Big will be treated as a Mick Fleetwood side project (the album is attributed to the Mick Fleetwood Band), it is very much co-producer Todd Smallwood's baby. Make no mistake about it, Fleetwood is a big part of the proceedings here with his steady and arrangement-oriented drumming, but Smallwood wrote all but one of the songs (Jackson Browne's "Looking into You" is rendered here in a close cover, with Browne himself helping on vocals), handles the lead vocals, and plays a half-dozen instruments to boot, not to mention mixing the whole thing. The result is a solid rock album with a late-'70s feel that is pleasant to listen to but unfortunately fails to resonate much after the music ends. It's hard to say why that is. Smallwood's songs are carefully crafted, and his voice (which sounds like a cross between Don Henley and Mark Knopfler) continually exudes an earnest sincerity, but somehow no melody really sticks to the wall. Among the best tracks are the opener, "Bitter End," which begins as a faux blues 78 before breaking into a midtempo rock shuffle, and "Where the Wind Blows," which has a Dylanesque pacing and phrasing. Longtime Fleetwood Mac bass player John McVie and former Mac guitarist Jeremy Spencer join in on "No Borders," a hopelessly hopeful song that takes as its central idea that in the future "the only passport will be the heart." Lauren Evans handles duet vocals with Smallwood on a couple tracks (as well as background vocals on several others), most notably on the hooky and solid "It's Only Money." In the end, Something Big is competent, listenable, and worth hearing, but don't expect anything that will make you forget Tusk.

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