A lynchpin in Fleetwood Mac’s success, eight-time Grammy winner Stevie Nicks’ status as a rock icon, a living legend, has never been in question. With a formidable reputation within and without the band and fiercely loyal fans who worship the ground she walks on, she’s nonetheless kept diehard fans waiting a solid 10 years for a new album. Perhaps the time lapse is due to a mixed reaction from critics for 2001’s Trouble In Shangri-La effort; perhaps it’s because the Mac have just finished up a blisteringly lengthy live reunion concert schedule.
Now that the band have – with the Unleashed world tour – put their past grievances to one side for the time being (a reunion in the studio is now optimistically touted), Nicks has been free to put her energies in creating new music on her own again. But Nicks is so synonymously wrapped up with the mighty Mac that it is a piece of track list mastery that new album In Your Dreams begins with Secret Love, an outtake originally demoed for the band’s seminal Rumours LP.
It might be the shortest track on the album but it is a gentle reminder of what Nicks’ songwriting capabilities were and still are. After a decade away, it is a good vehicle for her uniquely dauntless vocal delivery to wash back over you. You can tell, however that it is an out-take from the 40 million-selling album: similar words, similar melodies, similar feel. But that is not to detract from the fact it is a very good song.
Combined with the second track, the Landslide-esque For What It’s Worth, it makes up a perfect duo to draw you in to the album. On some of what follows (My Heart, Italian Summer, Wide Sargasso Sea) the poetics of her anguished heart can get quite repetitive within the lyrics, and the music arrangements can be so laid back as to be barely there. In these moments it’s a good job Nicks’ voice is the main instrument here; to imagine the majority of these songs working for literally anybody else is hard.
Eurhythmics lynchpin and producer Dave Stewart has paired up with Nicks for this album, and there is some spark to the co-written tracks (the majority of the album’s 13 parts). But there is also a sense that the two of the them were having so much ‘fun’ – indicated by a barrage of tweets from the LA studio last year – that an unbiased ear might not have gone amiss in the final stages of editing.
There are some absolute gems here too though, and it is the sole writing credits on In Your Dreams that stand out. Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream), a modernised version of an older Nicks track, with cultural references to the Twilight film franchise, and Annabel Lee, a song based on words by Edgar Allen Poe, are both twinkly, brooding and quite beautiful. Soldier’s Angel, too, is revved out of reverie with a guitar cameo by Mac sparring partner and former beau Lindsey Buckingham.
Should the rumoured studio reunion of Fleetwood Mac occur in the near future, In Your Dreams is, despite what it lacks, a bold affair. At the grand age of 63, when most people in the normal world would be thinking of retiring, Nicks demonstrates that she still has much to contribute. Of course, Nicks is not most people and doesn’t reside in our world; she is still the stuff of rock star legend, even if the evidence here suggestions she’s beginning to slow down. Those fiercely loyal fans will be very pleased with In Your Dreams, a pit stop in her canon of rock folklore.