New music review: Stevie Nicks – In Your dreams

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For the record, I am very fond of Stevie Nicks.  I’m a big fan of just about everything she’s ever put on the radio, be it solo or with Fleetwood Mac.  But thus far it has pretty much ended there.  I have never purchased one of her solo CD’s until this one.  Up to now, we’ve had a strictly “radio relationship.”

With that established, my first impression of In Your Dreams was that it is a little bit monotonous.  The songs and the singing are pretty similar throughout (especially on the first few tracks.)  They’re nice songs, so that’s not so bad, but I was waiting for her voice to soar here and there like on some of my favorite Stevie tracks such as “Edge Of Seventeen” or “If You Ever Did Believe.”

She also makes a ton of references to vampires, angels, ghosts, witches, and magic.  I guess that makes sense – if you think of her outfits going back forever, you could call Stevie the original “goth chick.”  Long before it was a fad and every third show on TV was about vampires, she more or less dressed the part.  Still, I couldn’t help wondering if she isn’t trying to shop any of these little ditties with titles like “Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream)” for the soundtrack of the next “Twilight” movie.

I would be remiss to not mention the contribution of Dave Stewart, best known for his work with Annie Lennox as half of The Eurythmics.  He produced and wrote the music for most of the album, while Stevie wrote most of the lyrics.  (No, this is not Eurythmics featuring Stevie Nicks.  Don’t expect synthesizers.)

The highlight of the album, and something obviously very important to Stevie, is a track called “Soldier’s Angel.”  First, there is the “music history” feel of it – Stevie invited her ex-lover and bandmate Lindsey Buckingham at the last minute to come and sing and play guitar on the track.  He only comes in on the chorus, but his vocal adds an even more haunting quality to an already haunting song.

This song was inspired by the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where our wounded soldiers recover when they come home from war.  Stevie has visited there a lot, and started a program in the mid 2000’s where she would personally load ipods with songs of her choosing to leave with each soldier, to make them feel better.  Other artists have gotten on board and contributed as well.  I find that exceptionally commendable and amazing.  How do you not love a woman like that?

Those experiences inspired these words:  “I am a soldier’s angel – through the eyes of a soldier – I am a soldier’s mother – through the eyes of an angel – I am a soldier myself – and no one walks away from this battle”

“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…”

If you don’t buy the whole CD, get on youtube right now and listen to “Soldier’s Angel.”

The track immediately following that one is an interesting contrast.  In the same way Lindsey Buckingham came in on the chorus and brought a more haunting quality to “Soldier’s Angel,” Dave Stewart comes in only on the chorus of “Everybody Loves You” and adds a level of cold detachment to a song about the same, in defiance of its title.  “Everybody loves you – but you’re so alone.”

Another favorite that I find fascinating is “Wide Sargasso Sea.”  It’s about a volatile relationship that eventually burns itself out – literally.  “She burned his house down saying – You may have forgotten me – but you’ll remember this.”  Wow.  I didn’t know Stevie had that in her.  I love it.

“New Orleans” is a nice tribute to the city, and pretty catchy once you get to the chorus.  You know she’s telling the truth (and channeling her inner drag queen?) when she says, “I wanna dress up – I wanna wear beads – I wanna wear feathers and lace.”  And “Annabel Lee” is an adaptation of the famous poem by Edgar Allen Poe, and it works.

“Ghosts Are Gone” is the only real rock-ish track, but I don’t understand what it means.  If anybody knows, by all means shoot me an email.  And “You May Be The One” is a poetic rebuke of a doomed relationship, almost as she’s realizing it’s doomed.  “You think you’ll understand – but you don’t understand – you may be my love – but you’ll never be my love…You broke my heart…I used to love you…”

Not a lot of sappy love songs here.  That’s fine; these songs exploring two people unable to reconcile are deeper and more intricate than the average love song.  I wondered as I listened if they were about her famously tumultuous relationship with Buckingham, or some other affair.  (She also was with Don Henley of The Eagles for awhile, and had a brief marriage to the husband of a friend of hers after the friend died of leukemia.)

The bottom line: is this a CD I’m going to take in the car with me and listen straight through, singing along?  I doubt it.  I just don’t relate to a good chunk of it.  On the day it was released, glee aired their “Fleetwood Mac – Rumours” episode, which only amplified what I felt were weak spots on this album.  But I appreciate it musically, and I’d love to hear “Soldier’s Angel” on the radio.

If any of this rings true, or pisses you off, all feedback is welcome at wegotthebeats@aol.com!

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