Juggling her two gigs as a part of Fleetwood Mac and a solo artist has only enhanced Stevie Nicks’ legendary status within the rock world and continued to thrill her ever loyal and accepting fans. Nicks hasn’t ever had to “reinvent” herself or tweak her formula to remain popular, nor has she ever compromised her artistic integrity in order to sell a few more albums over the years. Even during her darkest days (late ‘80s to early ‘90s), Nicks battled on and remained devoted to her craft and keeping her career alive.
So it came as no surprise to me that at some point over the past decade since her last album was released (2001’s Trouble In Shangri-La) there would be a follow-up. The only question was when that would happen. A successful Fleetwood Mac album (Say You Will from 2003) spawned two massive world tours and although making tons of money for all involved, they robbed Nicks of her precious writing time and delayed any plans to begin recording an album for some time.
So finally, at certain points throughout 2010, Nicks hooked up with Dave A. Stewart and the pair set about writing and producing a new solo album for her. Stewart’s workload must have been fairly hectic, as he was also recording his own solo album (this year’s The Blackbird Diaries) and had begun collaborating with Mick Jagger and several others to record the SuperHeavy album under that moniker. Regardless of his workload, Stewart has treated this album of enchanting songs superbly in that he has given Nicks room to breathe and all the time in the world to weave her elaborate tales of romance, hope, and character studies.
This at times in the past has been a problem for Nicks, as not many producers have known just what to do with her unique songs that come to them often in poems and backed only by Nicks softly keying the ivories. Stewart, however, co-wrote several songs here, and this obviously created a higher understanding between the two which is clearly evident as
In Your Dreams (Nicks’ seventh solo outing) gracefully unfolds itself and reveals all of the heart and soul and a little rock from Nicks that one could hope for. In fact, this new album just happens to be her most accomplished and focused solo album.
The lady herself remains in very fine voice and sounds as relaxed and carefree as she ever has before. All of this is clear from just the very first song, the exquisite “Secret Love” in which Nicks rues a love affair that ended long ago. “For What It’s Worth” (co-written with Mike Campbell) could have easily come from one of the Mac’s classic albums. It features Nicks’ story unfolding over a soft acoustic guitar and some very subtle slide and a faint backbeat; it’s easy to imagine those stunning Nicks, McVie, and Buckingham harmonies over the chorus lines.
“In Your Dreams” is a fantastic pop-rocker that lifts the tempo again and provides a calm spot before things get a little deeper with the sublime “Wide Sargasso Sea” (a Nicks classic already). Nicks weaves the tale of a passionate erotic affair that went horribly wrong over a grinding guitar-driven track that gives the record some serious punch just when it needs it. “New Orleans” is an intriguing ode to the iconic city and although since Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has had its fair share of dedications, Nicks again has a point of difference in that she found a way to personalize it where others have seemed a little generic.
Without a doubt the most poignant moment on the album is Stevie’s heartfelt and moving song dedicated to those who don’t return from war, “Soldier’s Angel.” She called in Lindsay Buckingham to play on the track and harmonize with her, but the most memorable aspect of the song is Nicks’ haunting words: “I am a soldier’s memory, as I write down these words / I try to write their stories and explain them to the world / I float through the halls of the hospitals, I am a soldier’s nurse / I keep the tears inside and put them down in verse.”
“Everybody Loves You” (a soft moment) and “Ghosts Are Gone” (a rocker) keep the wild stories and rich music coming and then Nicks drops a chill-out song with the cute “You May Be The One.” “Italian Summer” is sweet and another light moment which helps balance the overall tone of the record beautifully. The album closes with the obligatory Nicks/Stewart duet “Cheaper Than Free.” That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, though – just a tad odd, but nevertheless effective and a nice way to close out the album.
In Your Dreams runs for over an hour and all I want every time it ends is more of the same. This really is a brilliant album and as a long-time fan of rock’s High Priestess, I can honestly say it contains some of her finest work (with or without the Mac).
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