Album Review: Stevie Nicks' 'In Your Dreams'
Part of Stevie Nicks’ great charm as a songwriter is that she seldom apologizes for her actions in her songs. Whether from her days in Fleetwood Mac or throughout her solo career, she’s concentrated on providing the listener with an insider’s view of her romantic entanglements —and what incredibly entanglements they’ve been— unfiltered by any judgments. It’s a rare, vulnerable trait that has only endeared her further to her millions of fans.
She’s not about to change now on “In Your Dreams,” her first solo album in 10 years out today (May 3).
In the first two songs on the album—first single “Secret Love” and “For What It’s Worth”—she’s involved with taken men. She neither gloats about her bewitching appeal nor recriminates herself for her actions. These are her stories and her feelings. Let others sort out the messiness of such complications.
There’s a lovely country-rock tinge to “For What It’s Worth,” the superior of the two tracks, which written with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell. “What you did was, well, you saved my life. I won’t forget it,” she sings, making the song about much more than an illicit affair.
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Those country leanings continue with the title track, “In Your Dreams,” which has rollicking rock guitar riff reminiscent to “Queen of Hearts,” a great tune written by Hank DeVito and made popular by both Dave Edmunds and Juice Newton 30 years ago. Even on album closer, “Cheaper Than Free,” a graceful, swaying mid-tempo duet with Dave Stewart, it feels as if the spirit of The Byrds and other pioneers of country rock are sitting on her shoulders, smiling.
Produced by Stewart and Glen Ballard, “In Your Dreams” will delight long-time Nicks fans. Recorded in her Los Angeles home, there’s a warmth and an ease to much of the album that invites the listener in with open arms, even on the most up-tempo tracks, such as the propulsive “Ghosts Are Gone," which captures vintage Stevie at the tail end. Many of the songs, seven of which Nicks wrote with Stewart, are based on poems she’s written over the years, including “Annabel Lee,” a piece she wrote as a teenager after reading the famous Edgar Allan Poe poem. Nicks’ voice has always had a husky rasp to it that, luckily, time doesn’t diminish, although she sounds a little gruffer on a few of the tunes here she seldom sings as openly as she did during, say, the “Nightbird” stage.
There are some lovely moments here: her yearning for the Crescent City is palpable on “New Orleans” (if there was either a town that she should be from, it would be New Orleans, instead of Phoenix.), but there are some misses, like “Wide Sargasso Sea” or “Everybody Love You,” which has strong lyrical content about the living a private life publicly, but a synthesized opening out of the ‘80s seems horribly out of place.