Stevie Nicks was following both her debut solo album, Bella Donna (1981), which had topped the charts, sold over a million copies (now over four million), and spawned four Top 40 hits, and Fleetwood Mac‘s Mirage (1982), which had topped the charts, sold over a million copies (now over two million), and spawned three Top 40 hits (including her “Gypsy”), when she released her second solo album, The Wild Heart. She was the most successful American female pop singer of the time.
Not surprisingly, she played it safe: The Wild Heart contained nothing that would disturb fans of her previous work and much that echoed it. As on Bella Donna, producer Jimmy Iovine took a simpler, more conventional pop/rock approach to the arrangements than Fleetwood Mac’s inventive Lindsey Buckingham did on Nicks’s songs, which meant the music was more straightforward than her typically elliptical lyrics.
Iovine did get a Mac-like sound on “Nightbird,” in which Nicks repeated her invocation to “the white winged dove” from Bella Donna‘s “Edge of Seventeen,” and on “Sable on Blond,” a “Gypsy” soundalike. His most daring effort was the album’s leadoff single, “Stand Back,” which boasted a disco tempo.
Elsewhere, the songs were largely interchangeable with those on Bella Donna, even down to the obligatory duet with Tom Petty. Nicks seemed to know what she was up to — one song was called “Nothing Ever Changes.” As a result, The Wild Heart sold to the faithful — it made the Top Ten, sold over a million copies, and spawned three Top 40 hits (“Stand Back,” “Nightbird,” and “If Anyone Falls”). And that was appropriate: if you loved Bella Donna, you would like The Wild Heart very much.
William Ruhlmann / AllMusic / Undated