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Worth the 10 year wait? In your dreams......
on 11 May 2011
In Your Dreams is Stevie Nicks's first album of original material in 10 years, her last being the excellent Trouble In Shangri-La (2001). Weighing in at a hefty 64 minutes over 13 long songs, many partly written and all produced by Dave Stewart, with contributions from other heavyweights like Glen Ballard and Heartbreaker Mike Campbell, the new album certainly does not believe in half measures. Except, that is, for the quality of the songs themselves. Prone to stream of consciousness ramblings without rhyme or structure across most of her career, Stevie Nicks's material has traditionally been rescued by being linked to fabulous musical arrangements with strong melodies that have hidden the intrinsic weaknesses of the lyrics themselves. And then there is that magnificent voice, that used to soothe like honey and rasp like sandpaper, often in the space of the same line.
Sadly all of the old saving graces are missing from In Your Dreams. The songs are frankly monotonous, with Nicks seeming to sing on one level through many of them, with no attempt to carry a tune or even change the single note on which she sings them. Listen to `Italian Summer' or 'New Orleans' for an object lesson. The arrangements are often overblown, the aforementioned 'Italian Summer' being a prime example, but others like `Ghosts Are Gone' rock out and thrash around aimlessly without any sense of direction or pausing for breath. Others like `Soldier's Angel' fall victim to Nicks's simplistic lyrics as she deals in hushed and self-congratulatory tones with her personal involvement in visiting US war veterans; even sparse accompaniment from Lindsey Buckingham failing to rescue the song from triteness. It is hard to see how the involvement of Dave Stewart has helped the heavy handed arrangement of much of this album which undoubtedly signals a departure from Stevie Nicks's customary mystical and ethereal touch. Only the first song, `Secret Love' comes close to the quality of anything that Nicks delivered in her prime; hardly surprising, as it was written in the mid seventies.
For this reviewer, a lifelong fan of Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac, and Buckingham and Nicks in particular, In Your Dreams comes as a real disappointment. The recent flurry of activity from Lindsey Buckingham that produced two albums of fine quality (Gift Of Screws and Under The Skin), hinted at a real sense that he had something artistically valid left to say. Sadly this is not the case with Stevie Nicks, whose latest offering is guilty of many of the worst failings of overblown LA rock that she has always managed to avoid in the past. One suspects the hand of Dave Stewart as the source of ruination of many of the arrangements, but most of the songs themselves are fatally weak to start with, over-long, tuneless and monotonous. That Nicks chooses to appear on the album cover in a sunlit woodland glade accompanied by a white horse, and on the CD itself with an owl perched on her shoulder, reinforces how her fans still perceive her, and one suspects how she sees herself; but the image rings a tad hollow now that she is 62. Like the music itself, it lacks substance; scant reward indeed for a 10 year wait.