Friday, April 29, 2011

Music: Stevie Nicks: In Your Dreams

I've loved Stevie Nicks for more than thirty years.  Whether it was her music with Fleetwood Mac or her solo career, of her songs I find to be utter brilliance there are too many to name.  I own every single album and know every song by heart.  So, when word of a new Stevie Nicks record came down the path, it was excellent and exciting news.

For In Your Dreams, the legendary Stevie Nicks teams up with another music legend, Dave Stewart.  Dave Stewart, formerly half of the massively successful band, Eurythmics, is also an accomplished, and extremely talented, producer and songwriter.  Also making guest appearances with Stevie are Fleetwood Mac band mates Mick Fleetwood and Lindsey Buckingham.  Not only does Buckingham lend his guitar work to Soldier's Angel, he lends his vocal talents as well.

I cannot shower enough praise on Dave Stewart for what he has done with In Your Dreams as a producer.  Being a long-time fan of Stevie's, I've gone through the good times and bad times with her.  I've heard her voice at its best and its worst.  For a long time, I was certain its best had slowly faded never to return.  I couldn't have been farther from the mark.  In Dave Stewart's capable hands, Stevie's vocals are spot on, clear and she's singing like she hasn't in years.  I loved her Trouble in Shangri-La era vocals but I must say she's sounding even better now.  Yes, there is a bit of nasally sound to her voice at times and, yes, the softness her voice had in her younger years is gone.  Her voice has matured and Dave was able to capture everything about Stevie's vocal talents that makes her so remarkable.

But, alas, I cannot go on about the production value and vocals forever.  I'm afraid, for me, that is where the praise stops.

Apart from recognizing the excellent vocal and production work, I have next to nothing good to say about In Your Dreams.  I've listened to the album at least a dozen times now and each time I keep asking myself "what is there to really love here?".

There are 13 songs on the album and not a single one of them has that special something that I've come to rely on Stevie Nicks music to have.  Songs like Rhiannon, Blue Denim, Sara, Gypsy, Edge of Seventeen, Stand Back, I Can't Wait and Planets of the Universe all have something about them that grab you from the first second you hear them and refuse to let go.  They're unforgettable.  Sadly, that isn't the case with the music on In Your Dreams.  Nothing here is truly unforgettable.  If anything, it's the exact opposite.  I find myself wanting to forget this album ever existed.

Wild Sargasso Sea promises a lot but fails miserably to deliver.  Oh, it wants to give you something big but it can't quite make it there despite how hard it tries.  New Orleans rambles incoherently and almost feels like Stevie is trying too hard to squeeze everything she could think of about the great city of New Orleans into one set of lyrics.  Moonlight (A Vampire's Dream) is basically a very old Stevie Nicks song (Lady From the Mountain) with a handful of new Twilight-inspired lyrics thrown in for good measure.  I'll never forgive Stevie for ruining Lady From the Mountain for me in such a horrible way.  The last minute or so of Annabel Lee could have been trimmed from the song and it would have made the track perfect.  As for You May Be the One:  You may have lyrics, but you may not have good lyrics.  You may be a lackluster song, but you may not be as lackluster as Wide Sargasso SeaSoldier's Angel = Desert Angel, Part II.  Enough said.  Much like Wide Sargasso Sea, Italian Summer struggles to build up to anything then, finally, the last note...amazing.  I never would have believed Stevie could hold a note that long, strong and clear anymore.  Thank you, Stevie, for that pleasant surprise.  Cheaper Than Free, a duet with Dave Stewart, is a song I can see becoming popular on the wedding circuit as the syrupy, and sometimes awkward (what's better than high fashion!?) lyrics are perfect for it.  For What It's Worth is Stevie Nicks Goes Country.  I've always liked hearing Stevie harmonize with herself and she does that beautifully in this song.  However, the lyrics and country styling come right in and rip that beauty away for me.  I, personally, found Secret Love to be the strongest track on the album.  However, even it has problems.  I like the production value for the song but the "ooh-eee" really needs to go.  Thirty-five years was more than enough time for Stevie to find another word that rhymed with "me" seeing as how every lyric on In Your Dreams must rhyme.

All in all, I found the lyrics sub-par for what I have come to expect from Stevie Nicks.  In some places, I found them laughable and in others, I cringed.  Missing were the profound, and sometimes pleasantly confusing, lyrics and phrases that made Stevie Nicks lyrics almost works of art.  Most of the lyrics on this album seemed to be little more than the tortured poetry a sixth grade girl might scribble in her notebook out of boredom in history class.  The country flavor wasn't to my taste at all and the vampire theme?  No.  Just, no.  In Your Dreams is a jumbled mess of this and that and honestly feel a few of the songs could have been left on the studio floor as they brought nothing to the mix or did anything to solidify this album.

There is little doubt in my mind that In Your Dreams will be a great success for Stevie Nicks and I truly hope it isI want it to be a success and I want her to have something good in her musical legacy after the disaster that was Fleetwood Mac's last release, Say You Will.

In my opinion, In Your Dreams could have been Stevie's finest solo project.  It truly could have been the Stevie Nicks album of my dreams.  Instead, it is painfully underwhelming and an extraordinary disappointment.  Nothing on In Your Dreams really grabbed me.  Nothing made me really love it.  I never woke up with any of the songs running through my head.  I never found myself humming any of the songs throughout the day.  Nothing stood out as pure brilliance.  For me, it is like those dreams I have that, when I wake up, I'm sure I dreamed but I can't quite remember anything because nothing remarkable happened.  This is a record I won't remember in two weeks, maybe less.  When I want to hear Stevie, I'll pull out Bella Donna, Rock a Little or even Enchanted for a massive dose of Stevie goodness as this album will end up going on the shelf to be forgotten.  After ten years of no new material from Stevie Nicks, I wanted desperately to love In Your Dreams as much as I do all of Stevie's other work.  Unfortunately, my dreams were shattered.

Stevie Nicks, In Your Dreams
01.  Secret Love
02.  For What It's Worth
03.  In Your Dreams
04.  Wide Sargasso Sea
05.  New Orleans
06.  Moonlight (A Vampire's Dream)
08.  Soldier's Angel
09.  Everybody Loves You
10.  Ghosts Are Gone
11.  You May Be the One
12.  Italian Summer
13.  Cheaper Than Free

Release Dates:
United States & Canada:  3rd May, 2011
Australia:  6th May, 2001
Europe:  6th May, 2011
United Kingdom:  27th June, 2011

For more information:
Stevie Nicks Official Site:
Dave Stewart Official Site:
Rolling Article with Album Stream:    In Your Dreams


  1. I know, I know. :-)

    I can't tell you how heartbreaking it was for me not to fall in love with this album on the first listen.

    I truly do hope this record ends up being another Street Angel for me. I really disliked that one when I first heard it (except for Blue Denim--how can anyone NOT love Blue Denim??) but it grew on me over time. Hopefully, this one will too. If it does, I'll gladly re-post and retract what I no longer disagree with here. ;-)