Review: Stevie Nicks looks back on shimmering ‘24 Karat Gold’
Now that young bands such as Haim and One Direction are reviving the polished pop-rock of Fleetwood Mac, it seems only right that the group’s iconic frontwoman, Stevie Nicks, would look back as well.
As its title suggests, “24 Karat Gold: Songs From the Vault” offers new recordings of tunes Nicks wrote as long ago as 1969; the most recent is from 1995. You can tell the material is old too. In the aching “Hard Advice” she sings about listening to the radio and hanging out in a record store. (Remember those?)
But Nicks has always found fresh drama in the past -- think of “Rhiannon,” loosely inspired by an ancient Welsh legend -- and here she sounds no less energized chewing over bygone resentments in the throbbing title track and pondering bad decisions in “The Dealer,” which rides a silky groove reminiscent of the one in the Mac’s indelible “Dreams.”
For “Mabel Normand” she reaches back further, sympathizing with a real-life silent film star thought to have struggled with cocaine.
Recorded mostly in Nashville with Nicks’ longtime guitarist Waddy Wachtel and Dave Stewart (who also produced Nicks’ excellent “In Your Dreams” from 2011), “24 Karat Gold” makes room amid the retrospection for some new sounds. “Cathouse Blues” touches unexpectedly on ragtime, while “Blue Water,” with backing vocals by Lady Antebellum, shimmers with traces of country and soul.
There’s also a couple of crunching hard-rock numbers, including “I Don’t Care,” that feel powered by the same aggression Fleetwood Mac channeled on its 2013 arena tour. (Now reunited with Christine McVie, the group launched yet another road show last week and will hit the Forum in November.)
Whatever the arrangement, though, Nicks’ voice -- that signature drone that’s gotten only more appealingly imperious with age -- defines the music here. Her singing dominates as easily now as it ever did.
“24 Karat Gold: Songs From the Vault”
3 ½ stars out of 4
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