Stevie Nicks returns to top form in studio album

Stevie Nicks Street Angel 1994★★★★
Street Angel (Modern/Atlantic)

“Understanding me is not an easy thing to do,” sings Stevie Nicks in “Blue Denim,” the vibrant lead track from Street Angel, her first studio album in five years.

No kidding.

Interpreting Nicks’ confessional, sometimes mystical, lyrics has often been a formidable task — both in her solo work and her days with Fleetwood Mac. So it’s a relief to find Nicks sticking to a common theme on Street Angel — love. And plenty of it.

There’s “Kick It,” the set’s most infectious track, a spry, harmonious number with an uplifting sing-along chorus. And “Maybe Love Will Change Your Mind,” the first single, is another charmer, thanks to Nicks’ relaxed vocals and its seizing and chipper pop-rock nature.

But the CD’s standout is its title track, a haunting ballad that ranks among the songwriter’s finest moments on record. “Street Angel” tells of a homeless woman who must choose between the love of a wealthy man and her family on the streets. The exquisite melody and detailed harmony by David Crosby lend the tune a grace you don’t often find in today’s pop market.

Nicks’ only misstep here is an unnecessary and overly reverent cover of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like a Woman” (with the man himself playing harmonica behind her Dylan-aping vocals).

Street Angel is Nicks’ most consistently tuneful solo set to date. Moreover, it equals her first two — and previous best — LPs, Bella Donna and The Wild Heart. (Three cuts — “Greta,” an ode to screen legend Greta Garbo, and the country songs “Destiny” and “Rose Garden” — predate 1981’s Bella Donna and find a fitting home here.)

With ample guitars erupting all over Street Angel, Nicks finds her wings as a rocker and reminds us why we fell in love with her when first she spun her tale of a Welsh witch named “Rhiannon” 19 long years ago.

Howard Cohen / Knight-Ridder Newspapers / June 10, 1994

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