Legend, icon, storyteller

Stevie Nicks Talks About Empowering Women, Fleetwood Mac and her Next Tour

Legend. Icon. Storyteller.

“I have a super loud voice,” Stevie Nicks said with a laugh. The world is thankful for it. Her voice is necessary in times like these. The future is up in the air and Stevie Nicks has stepped up to the plate to be the heroine we all need. She is taking the show on the road and it will be unlike anything anyone has ever seen before. The 27-city tour starts on October 25th in Phoenix and will travel to places like Atlanta, Toronto, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York City and more. “The 24 Karat Gold Tour” is the next chapter in the mythical career of Stevie Nicks.

In an exclusive interview with The Huffington Post, Nicks went into detail about what fans should look forward to when “The 24 Karat Gold Tour” comes to town. “I made a list. I went all the way back into my full catalog because the 24 Karat Gold record has a lot of songs. It also does encompass in many ways all the songs from all my solo records. So I’m having to pick. My list ended up to be 31 songs, it’s really ridiculous. I have an amazing opening act in The Pretenders. It cannot be a three hour set like I just finished doing with Fleetwood Mac and I asked, ‘But why?’ My musical director and lead guitarist asked if I cut down the set at all yet and I went, ‘Nope.’ So I said, ‘Just hand out the 31 songs to the band and tell them they don’t have to learn them all perfectly. They just have to be aware that we need to play these songs because sometimes the songs that you think are going to be the best aren’t and sometimes the songs that you think will never work end up being some of your favorite things,’” she told me. It was quite clear that Stevie Nicks created an adventurous and exciting air around her latest undertaking.

Nicks acknowledged that she will have to revisit her classic hits before touching the new material. “Of course there are the songs that you have to do which are ‘Landslide’ and ‘Edge Of Seventeen.’ That’s fine. I love all those songs so I don’t care. I wish I could do all new songs but you can’t,” she chuckled. She continued, “I’m going to try to do some title songs. I’m going to make an effort to do an extremely difficult complex song called ‘Wild Heart’ which may totally go down in flames. The fact is I’m going to try because I always wanted to do it on stage. It’s a very complex and complicated song but I’m hoping it’s going to work. I’m going to do the songs ‘Bella Donna’, and ‘Rooms On Fire.’ I’m trying to represent every record. There’s a bunch of songs on 24 Karat Gold that haven’t been played by my band. We have to work through all the songs on 24 Karat Gold to see if they will work. If you miss one syllable you can be lost in the dark. There’s not even time to breathe. My musical director said ‘Oh my God. Call me when it’s over.’ I said, ‘Don’t worry it’s going to be okay. It’s all going to work out.’ He’s a nervous wreck. It’s going to be great because we are actually going to ‘represent’. That’s what people say today, right? This tour is a little bit about the glorious past up until now. These songs are not songs that were ever kicked off records,” Nicks told me. She then explained why the songs were never released. She said, “These are songs that were pulled off records by me because I didn’t like how they were recorded. Which means I didn’t like the production, I didn’t like the singing, I didn’t like the fact that it was made too much into a rock n roll song or not. These weren’t songs that I didn’t want to go out, these were just songs that weren’t right. I said ‘No, I’m not going to have a bad experience with this song’ so I pulled them. That’s where 24 Karat Gold came from.” What is old is new again. Fans have been salivating to see these buried treasures played live by the icon.

You can never, ever get out of the line. You have to stay in the line because somebody will jump in there and take your place.

When explaining the process of recording 24 Karat Gold, Nicks told me, “We started with sixteen songs when we went to Nashville. And it came down to fourteen or fifteen, maybe. I said to Dave Stewart who has all my demos, ‘How can we make a record of these songs and do it while I’m off from Fleetwood Mac, while Christine is moving back to LA, while we are getting her straightened out? How long would that take?’ Dave said, ‘2-5 and 6-10 and then you go home.’ He followed up by saying, ‘You need to be on time and everything will be charted. And you want these songs charted exactly the way they were on your demos. They will be exact. They won’t be arguing with you. These are the best of the best studio musicians and they play on all different kinds of records every single day.’ We had to be organized and we were. It was so great because I didn’t have to learn to sing any of these songs differently because they were exactly as I wrote them. And they loved them. We recorded live. I was in a booth looking at all of them. The drummer, another guitar player, we had three guitar players and it was all there and I could see everybody. It was like playing in a club. When we were done, we jumped on a plane and flew back to my house. It was really fun. We had another three weeks at my house and then it was done. And it was amazing because the only records made in that kind of time were Fleetwood Mac because we really didn’t have that much money. We had a record deal. It was well known but it wasn’t the time to be self-indulgent. And Bella Donna took three months with a month of rehearsal and a month before that of picking out the songs. Every other record we’ve ever done has taken at least a year. Rumors, all of the records. We have enough money where everyone goes ‘We can do whatever we want.’ And I think sometimes that really doesn’t work that well for you because you really don’t need to book every studio in the city to put five thousand overdubs on music that is already really good. You are trying really hard to use your time wisely. You get better stuff and it is a lot more fun getting the stuff that you do get.” Nicks has had a lot of fun throughout her career and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Just when you think you have seen it all, Nicks makes sure that you haven’t seen anything yet.

Stevie Nicks - 24 Karat Gold Songs from the Vault“I’m not going out to promote this record to sell records because I know people don’t buy that many records now. I have a really good record, and I can go up on stage and do as many of the songs that I can get away with doing,” Nicks told me. She continued, “This will be a very theatrical show. We have a lot of great pictures. This is something I have not mentioned to anybody else. The guy who took the cover of Rumours, Fleetwood Mac and all of my covers, Herbert W. Worthington III, died last year and he left me everything. He left me every picture he ever took, all the way back to Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy and all the Fleetwood Mac stuff. All of the press photo sessions. I have an immense amount of amazing photographs taken by this great photographer who was a dear friend of mine that I can now use. When he was alive, he was like ‘You can have that one picture but it’s going to cost you $5,000.’ I would go ‘Herbie come on! Nobody is going to pay that much money! Are you crazy?’ It’s never been seen. So we have these photographs to use and to put up behind me. There’s a picture for every song. A picture tells a thousand stories so that’s really exciting too. I’m going to try to make the beautiful art book that he always wanted to make but never got the opportunity to do.” Stevie Nicks is all about making opportunities that were once not possible—including another Fleetwood Mac tour.

“We will go out again. We will probably go out in another year and a half,” Nicks said while shaking her head. She followed up by saying, “We have to for Christine. Because she’s like ‘Oh my God. I just came back to the band after sixteen years and you are going to break up now?’ We can’t break up now. We gave Christine her 120 shows and she flew through them. She’s five years older than me and you would just never know it. She looks great. You’ll get to see that show. She will never let us off the hook for that.” Stevie Nicks made sure to not let the next generation off the hook when she spoke about what it takes to succeed in the world today.

Stevie Nicks and Adele
Backstage with Stevie Nicks and Adele

“I think it’s very hard now. That does not mean that it can’t happen,” Nicks said endearingly. She continued, “Look, it happened for Adele. Adele is certainly someone who writes great songs and has an amazing voice. Why did it happen for Adele? It’s because the stars crossed exactly at the right time, who knows. Whatever it was she worked very hard at it. I think that’s the thing. You have to figure out a way, if you’re eighteen or moving out of your parents house because you have to figure out a way to play and also support yourself. If everybody is like how my parents were, oh boy, I went to college for five years. I stopped after five years and had three months left to graduate. I called my parents and I said ‘My boyfriend Lindsey and I are going to LA.’ They said ‘Well, that’s fine we totally believe in you and support your theory in what you’re doing.’ I said, ‘Mom, we have to go now. It’s now or never.’ She said, ‘Cool, however, we will be withdrawing all financial support.’ And I said ‘I know that and it’s okay. We are going and I will be okay.’ And it was okay. Lindsey and I went to LA in 1971 and we worked out butts off. I had lots and lots of jobs. We didn’t really play shows because Lindsey didn’t want to play covers. We could have made a thousand dollars a week if we did three days a week. I wouldn’t have had to be a cleaning lady, a maid, a waitress or any of that. But the fact is, is that it made me a well-rounded person to be able to do that. We never gave up. You just have to keep working. I watch all those shows like The Voice, the end of American Idol, America’s Got Talent. I watch them all because I think they are all really fun. I’m a musical person and I love to watch people sing. If that’s what Lindsey and I had to do, if it was now, I would be dragging him tooth and nail to do those shows. Because if that’s the only way you can get people to see you now, then go on those damn shows. If you don’t get on them this year, go home and get better and practice and go back and do it again next year. If this is what you want to do, you have to be absolutely organized. And devoted and determined and you can’t listen to anybody tell you what you can and cannot do. Nobody knows what you can do except you. You have to prove the world wrong, period. If you’re really good…And I think most people could actually say they are really good at something. I did. I would look in the mirror and would go ‘Lindsey and I are excellent singers and we don’t sound like anybody else. We can captivate an audience and we can write great songs. So I don’t care if I’m a waitress right now because I’m not going to be a waitress for very long.’ That’s the attitude you have to take.”

Independence…I think that’s important when talking to kids, especially women. Assert your independence.

Nicks continued to share words of wisdom for aspiring entertainers. “If you can’t have that work ethic about what you do, you might as well just try to go to school and learn to do something where you can get a job that you can get paid for. Rock and roll, music, acting, being a dancer. It’s all fleeting unless you never look away. You can never, ever get out of the line. You have to stay in the line because somebody will jump in there and take your place,” she said in all seriousness. Passionately, she exclaimed, “One thing I remembered when we first moved to LA—we played for people. A lot of people were like, ‘Yeah you guys are really good…But who are you? What are you? Are you rockabilly? Are you folk singers? Are you going to add members and become a rock n roll band? A country rock n roll band? Are one of you going to become a preacher? Are you going to be with the Everly Brothers?’ We would be like, ‘We don’t know. We just know that we are going to be really famous. And we are really good at what we do. We don’t put ourselves in any specific box. You can put us in a box and tell us what we are if you want and maybe we will believe you. But the fact is—what we know is—that we are really good.’”

Nicks then proceeded to give career advice for young women in this day and age. “If this didn’t work out for me I would have probably been a disc jockey or maybe an editor. I would have done something that was really, really fun. If this didn’t pan out for me and I finally started thinking 10 years down the line ‘Well maybe this isn’t going to work,’ I would have done something else and continued to do music in my leisure time. There is something also to be said about that. I think I could have been a great disc jockey because I love music and I love talking and I love telling stories. I think I could have been great at doing something like that. I always had something like that in the back of my mind even when I was sixteen when I told my parents that I was going to be a singer-songwriter and that’s that. And my mom’s like ‘Well you are going to take short-handed typing. Because you are going to be able to be an independent woman. You are going to be able to stand in a room with really smart men and hold your own. You are never going to feel like you are behind while the whole room of men are going to look at you like some stupid girl.’ My mom was seriously independent and she always had a job. She wanted that for me from the very beginning. To have my independence. I think that’s important when talking to kids, especially women. Assert your independence. Christine and I knew that we would never be treated like second class citizens when standing in a room with Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. All of the famous men. If anybody ever treats us with anything but total respect we will just walk out and it is their loss. And that was implanted in my head by my mom long before I graduated from high school.” Mom always knows best. So does Stevie Nicks.

Nicks hammered the point home by telling people to always put in their best effort and to never be afraid of being different. She said, “You could be a really good photographer but guess what? Your 5-year-old is a really good photographer. The bar has been set so high now with everything. I think I’m a good photographer. But then I see these little kids taking these pictures and they are phenomenal. So you have to go back and say ‘Well I’m going to be better than that. The bar is raised and I’m going to jump over that bar. I’m going to be a better photographer than all the 5-year-olds and all the 25-year-olds.’ The bar has been raised in everything because of this tech world we live in. I don’t have a computer. I don’t have an iPhone. I have a camera that takes really good pictures and I have a flip phone in case of a fire. That’s it. I don’t live in that world but I see everybody around me that lives in that world. Sometimes I feel like I am an alien. Everybody is sitting with a silver computer on their laps and crying because the Internet went down. That’s really how people are and I don’t live in that world. Maybe we should talk about kids being truly creative, who want to be a performer or a writer. They can’t live in that world. Get out of that world. Start writing by hand. Life is beautiful. Buy a notebook, take out a pen and write it out instead.” In true Stevie Nicks style, she had one last thing to say to everybody.

“Whatever you do just don’t be sitting next to somebody and talk to them on your phone.”

You can purchase tickets to “The 24 Karat Gold Tour” by clicking here.

Kyle Stevens / Huffington Post / Monday, September 19, 2016

Follow Kyle Stevens on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thekylestevens

Stevie covers Rolling Stone Australia

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The Australian edition of Rolling Stone (April 2015) featuring a different photo of Stevie hit the newsstand on Wednesday. The photograph, originally shot by Sam Emerson, is from the mid-Seventies.

(It was previously reported in error that the photograph was taken by Herbert W. Worthington III. Our apologies to the Sam Emerson and the Herbert W. Worthington estate.)

Rolling Stone Australia

Rock’s Gold Dust Woman

Already a fiercely popular vocalist for mega-band Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks began her solo music career in 1980 It seemed that releasing just two to three songs every two years was not enough for her. And being a prolific songwriter, she decided to sow her creative oats with what would be her first solo album, Bella Donna. No one expected a hit, not even Stevie herself. She figured she would simply return to Fleetwood Mac once the album as done, but the fans stated otherwise. Upon its release, Bella Donna went to Number One on the Billboard Top LP chart, eventually gaining platinum status and spawning 4 singles, including “Edge of Seventeen” and “Leather and Lace.” A small tour followed, after which she did go back to Fleetwood Mac. But the seeds were sown, and a solo Stevie was just fine with where she was headed.

Throughout the 1980s, Nicks would go on to record her most popular music. Her second and third albums, The Wild Heart and Rock A Little went on to achieve platinum status as well, with singles like “Talk To Me,” “I Can’t Wait,” and the uber hit, “Stand Back.” Collaborations with some of rock’s heavy hitters, most notably Tom Petty and Don Henley, added fuel to the fire, creating a grueling schedule where she balanced both Fleetwood Mac and her solo career.

Enter cocaine. Once thought of as the “rock star’s friend,” Stevie developed a life-threatening addiction to the drug. She overcame addiction first to cocaine in the late 1980s, then to a prescription medication called Klonopin in the mid-1990s. After entering rehab twice, she emerged clean and ready to rock once again.

2001 saw the release of her sixth solo LP, the critically-acclaimed Trouble In Shangri-La, which features a guest list that included Natalie Maines of Dixie Chick fame, as well as Sarah McLachlan and Macy Gray. The album saw the return of her romantic, yet cryptic, style of songwriting, with Nicks winning the Blockbuster Songwriters Award that same year.

In 2011, Stevie returned with In Your Dreams. Produced by former Eurythmics member Dave Stewart (the two had met in the 1980 and vowed one day to work together). Stewart took the music to new heights, all the while staying true to Nicks’ style. Upon release of the first single, “Secret Love,” fans and critics alike said the same thing — she has never sounded better.

Now, fast forward to the present. At age 66, Stevie is better than ever, touring with a newly reunited Fleetwood Mac, while releasing her latest solo LP, 24 Karat Gold — Songs From the Vault. With Dave Stewart once again at the producer’s helm, the album has been quite well received by critics as well as adored by thousands of rabid fans. There is no middle ground with Nicks’ fans — they worship her. The rock icon shows no signs of stopping any time soon. With a slew of tour dates with Fleetwood Mac, as well as her own album to promote, she is one busy lady.

And a very lucky one! Many of her contemporaries succumbed to drug addiction and overdose. Nicks broke the cycle, and not only survived, but thrived in a business where fame can kill. Now, after eight successful solo albums, countless tours, and even a special appearance on NBC’s The Voice, Nicks is at the top of her game. She’s planning a new album with Fleetwood Mac, as well as a tour for her own latest release. The life and career of Rock’s Chief Sorceress are fantastic once again.

Marc Farr / Playback: stl / Thursday, February 5, 2015

VIDEO: Stevie Nicks performs ‘Blue Water’

Watch Stevie Nicks perform a serene, solo ‘Blue Water’

Rolling Stone’s most recent cover story is a long, intimate look into the life of Stevie Nicks. While the issue was coming together, the Fleetwood Mac singer-songwriter sat behind a piano and played a handful of songs for our cameras. Above, watch her perform “Blue Water,” a meditative track that from last year’s 24 Karat Gold: Songs From the Vault. Lady Antebellum provide harmonies on the record, but here Nicks goes completely solo.

During the informal session, she also sang a rare, stripped-down version of “Gypsy,” and in the story she discussed everything from her past drug use to her current tour with Fleetwood Mac.

“We choose to stay,” she says of the band. “Because we can’t do anything else. None of us are ever going to stand up and say, ‘I’m going to make my own choice for the first time in my life, and I’m going away, and I don’t know if I’m coming back.”

Rolling Stone / Tuesday, January 27, 2015

‘When in doubt, be Stevie Nicks’

The iconic singer releases a record amid fierce interest in her work and persona

A night owl by nature, Stevie Nicks was unable to sleep on a recent Saturday night in Manhattan and had scheduled a late interview to help pass the evening. So 1:30 a.m. found her looking out on the terrace of her rented penthouse atop the Palace Hotel, with a hypnotic view of the Rockefeller Plaza. Amid a torrent of recollections—of her band, Fritz; of the duo she later created with former lover and Fritz guitarist, Lindsey Buckingham; and, of course, of Fleetwood Mac—Nicks began to hum a hip-hop tune. “Which rapper is it that I love who says, ‘Mo’ money more problems?’ ” she asked, pausing in the midst of Notorious B.I.G.’s biggest hit. “He spoke the truth. Don’t I know it!”

Nicks’s truth is peppered with tales of fate and near-fatalities: Fleetwood Mac’s opulent success, the long nights of work wrought with “enough alcohol and cocaine to guarantee years of addiction,” the speculative stories that followed them around for years (orgies and paganism were favoured topics).

Related: An extended web-only Q&A with Stevie Nicks

The history is relevant; her recent solo album, 24 Karat Gold, reinterprets demos written before, during and after Fleetwood Mac’s rise. In it, Nicks doesn’t simply cover her own work; she acts as a musical necromancer who resurrects old sounds and personal stories of burned love, life on the road and facing demons. The song Twisted, first released on the soundtrack for the 1996 disaster-drama Twister, flicks at the appetite for danger all five band members shared. “It was originally written about a group of tornado chasers who dedicate their lives to hunting down storms,” she said. “The parallels to Fleetwood Mac are so there.” The mix of emotion, narcotics and creative egos brought forth a bounty of songs, and turbulent romances. Nicks ended her relationship with Buckingham in 1975, and had an affair with drummer Mick Fleetwood. Christine McVie, the band’s keyboardist-vocalist, left the guitarist for the sound engineer. “After the show, we wouldn’t go out,” Nicks said. “[Christine] would drink wine spritzers and I’d drink tequila alone in our adjoined rooms. The boys were angry at us [and] we had to see them in the morning to work.”

Nicks’s record is timed to a Fleetwood Mac reunion; the group is booked for more than 40 dates in Europe and Australia, and McVie rejoins them after a 16-year hiatus. On tour, Nicks and Buckingham, who share time alone on stage during the ballad Landslide, remain uncomfortable co-workers. “Fences will never be mended with Lindsey and me,” Nicks said. “We don’t agree on anything. If something’s going on [and] I’m doing something that Lindsey doesn’t like, his manager tells my manager. I don’t care what he thinks.”

Stevie Nicks

The distance is working for Nicks. The solo project, produced by former Eurythmics guitarist-producer Dave Stewart, contains some of the best recordings she has made in two decades. The work riffs on the witchy reputation she has propagated referencing Welsh mythology and wearing sorceress-style shawls, and which is enjoying something of a moment. Nicks had a cameo on the HBO series American Horror Story: Coven last year and was a guest judge on The Voice. “I could never be Madonna,” she shrugged. “It’s too much work to be a chameleon.” She will not be dressed by stylists—“They steal your personality”—or coerced by A&R people (“Nobody has the balls to tell me what to do”). Her ’70s bohemian look is referenced by fashion designers ranging from Rodarte to Ralph Lauren. Her duets with Dixie Chicks and Taylor Swift are awards-show ratings draws. The 18-year-old editor Tavi Gevinson gave this advice to her platoon of Millennial followers in a TED talk: “When in doubt, just be Stevie Nicks.”

The 66-year-old Nicks does not own a cellphone or computer, but she’s aware of the momentum behind her. She wants to record a sequel to 24 Karat Gold. She plans to launch a capsule collection of clothing, a jewellery line and a perfume. “I spend so many late nights mixing scents with cinnamon,” she said. She had advice for young, scantily clad singers she sees backstage at awards shows. “It’s degrading, and it makes women appear to be fancy little hookers. If you are not at least somewhat of a feminist, you’re going to be taken advantage of.”

Elio Iannucci / Maclean’s Magazine / Sunday, 25th January 2015

VIDEO: At home with Stevie Nicks

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VIDEO: Stevie takes trip down memory lane

Rock icon Stevie Nicks is in the middle of the massive sold out Fleetwood Mac tour. But she still found the time to release her eighth solo studio album, 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault. Access Hollywood sat down with Stevie, who enjoyed her music trip down memory lane.

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

Stevie Nicks stays gold

Multiple-Grammy-winning Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Stevie Nicks has soaked up a lot of wisdom over her 47-year career. But she can’t help chuckling over the prescient accuracy of knowledge passed down from legendary hard-partying L.A. guitarist Waddy Wachtel, who worked with her on 24 Karat Gold – Songs From the Vault, her stellar new collection of previously unrecorded originals, dating from 1969 to 1995. His hilarious quote? “Naps are the new cocaine.” “And it’s so true, it is sooo true!” she purrs, phoning one recent afternoon from her oceanfront Los Angeles home. “And you know what? I was going to take a power nap today, and we forgot that we had to talk to you. So I said ‘Okay—no power nap today!’”

As a kid, adds the singer, 66, her own mother would catnap daily: “And I used to think ‘That is so stupid—you’re going to go lay down for 35 minutes?’ And she’d go ‘Yeah, but it changes your life!’ And when we were younger, we would never have thought that that would have helped. But it does. So I do that, too. And about five o’clock every day, I start going ‘Okay—I need to lay down.’ And people look at me like, ‘Really?’ And I’m like, ‘No. Seriously. I need to go lay down and be away from all you people for 30 minutes to an hour. So I am disappearing now.’”

As interviews go, not a bad way to start. Your subject is awake and ready to talk. Groggy, perhaps. Maybe just a tad resentful. But definitely eager to discuss the current renaissance that’s sweeping through her life and rocketing her back onto the pop-cultural radar. This May, she finally received a coveted BMI Icon Award for her composing, which caught fire when she and then-boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham (who had recorded one 1973 album as Buckingham Nicks) joined British blues-rock outfit Fleetwood Mac in 1975, forever transforming its sound and sales figures—The Mac’s definitive 1977 blockbuster Rumours went platinum 45 times over, even though many of its songs detailed the couple’s breakup.

2014-1118-paste-magazine-issue-165In 2011, Nicks released her first solo set in a decade, In Your Dreams, produced by her longtime chum Dave Stewart, of Eurythmics renown. Its kickoff single “Secret Love” was a vintage chestnut she had originally demoed back in 1976 for Rumours but never officially cut. The album debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard Chart, the same week that Fox TV’s hit series Glee broadcast an entire episode revolving around Rumours material, bouncing that landmark disc back up to No. 11. “That is the power of the media, and that is the power of [Glee creator] Ryan Murphy, and that is the power of that show,” Nicks sighs, appreciatively.

Over the next three years, rock’s grande dame would go on to: release a documentary video, also titled In Your Dreams; appear on NBC’s snarky sitcom Up All Night, trilling duets with its stars Maya Rudolph and Christina Applegate and appear on another Murphy project, the camp-creepy American Horror Story: Coven, sporting her fabled circa-1920s top hat she employs onstage to portray a non-practicing keyboardist witch who serenades its star Jessica Lange with “Rhiannon,” “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You?” and “Seven Wonders,” a dusty relic that was so well-received by viewers that Fleetwood Mac is including it in its current “On With the Show” tour set. The world-traversing jaunt also features a rejuvenated Christine McVie on keyboards, back after a 16-year semi-retirement.

Then there’s 24 Karat Gold, also produced by Stewart and tracked in three rapid-fire weeks in Nashville, using straightforward session vets. “You could never write these songs now, because it took 20, 30 years to write these songs,” explains Nicks of tracks like “Starshine,” “Blue Water,” “The Dealer,” and the oldest number, “Cathouse Blues,” which would all have fit nicely on The Mac’s adventurous Rumours follow-up Tusk, or possibly Nicks’ dream-rocking first solo set from 1981, Bella Donna. “But it’s strange to be trying to do a little promotion for this record, and then also being on a huge Fleetwood Mac tour—I’m trying to do a lot at one time,” she says. “I’m trying to multitask. But I’m really proud of the album, and I’m really proud of what Fleetwood Mac is doing, because these shows are just amazing.” She pauses. “So I just have to get more sleep to fit it all in. That’s all.”

When she first came up with her 24 Karat concept earlier this year, Nicks recalls, she thought it sounded absurd, almost inconceivable. When Mac bassist John McVie was diagnosed with cancer, the band canceled its spring Australian tour while he sought treatment. Left to her own devices, she decided to make her next album. And since the Internet was brimming with recordings of old material that she had never officially issued, re-tracking them seemed like a no-brainer. This was in April, she stresses. And come Aug. 6, she would submerge into demanding Fleetwood Mac rehearsals, and then head right back out to play stateside arenas. In Your Dreams had taken over a year to perfect. How could she possibly get its successor completed in three months?

Nicks did the only thing she could think of at the time—she phoned Stewart, asking his opinion. He had a one-word reply: “Nashville.” That’s what they do there, he swore. The city was full of professional studio players, ready to cut professional sessions at the drop of a hat. With the cock ticking, she agreed to give it a whirl. “And before I got there, I’m going ‘Wow. I hope he’s right. Because I don’t know how we’re going to record 17 songs in three weeks!’” she says. “But we recorded them in two weeks! They did two songs a day, and sometimes three. And it was all done live. Only myself and the piano player were in vocal booths, and the rest of the band was all in one big room. Kind of like The Rolling Stones.”

Full of adrenaline, the artist returned home to L.A., where—in another three-week stint—she added backing vocals, plus guitar overdubs from Wachtel (who co-produced with her and Stewart), The Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell and Davey Johnstone. “And then we immediately started on the cover,” she adds. “So it was an amazing experience, because we know that, come Aug. 6, I was done. I was then being handed over to Fleetwood Mac, and that was it. But it was all done in under two and a half months, which is ridiculous. Because never—never—has Fleetwood Mac or me ever done a record like that, especially including mastering, mixing, and all that other stuff you have to do. So this was just a ridiculous project that we jumped into.”

But the CD cover idea? That’s where things really got interesting. And where Nicks—already in a reflective frame of mind from unearthing her lost songs—really went tripping back down memory lane. In old shoeboxes, long mothballed away in storage, she dug up scratchy old Polaroids that she’d taken of herself, on tour with Fleetwood Mac in the late ‘70s—essentially some of the earliest selfies, a la the brilliant self-referencing photographer Cindy Sherman (although Nicks was thinking more Diane Arbus at the time). She first started experimenting with a Polaroid camera in high school, she says. Everyone in class had one, and part of the thrill of using one was the instant gratification involved. You took your shot, waited for the film to eject, shook it, and in a couple of minutes you had a perfectly developed picture. She loves remembering the nascent beginnings of her second favorite craft, her third being painting/drawing: “When I joined Fleetwood Mac, we started touring, and you’re on a long tour and you’re by yourself, and you stay up until five in the morning, no matter what—this is me we’re talking about. And so I just started taking pictures. I was like, ‘I’d like to be a photographer, so I’ll just take Polaroids, and I’ll get other people to model for me!’ But that didn’t work out very well.”

In fact, only a few days earlier, the shutterbug had reminded an astounded Christine McVie of their typical post-concert conversation as they returned to their hotel each night:

NICKS: “Do you want to come over to my suite?”
McVIE: “Well, when?”
NICKS: “1:30? It’s 12:30 now, so like, in an hour?”
McVIE: “Uh…no, listen, I’m good. I’m going to the bar. See ya!”

“That was the answer I got from everybody,” Nicks says, laughing. “’Love to help ya! But, err, really don’t want to!’ So I had to become my own model, because I didn’t have anybody else. So I’d be in a beautiful room, and there’d be a fireplace and a beautiful chair, and I’d throw quilts and stuff over the chair, and I’d drag lights in from all over the suite and I’d light it up as bright as I could get it. And then I would have a tripod with a long, long extension cord with a button. Then I’d put a plant or something sitting on the chair, just to get it focused. Then I’d think of something, smile and look at the camera, and then I’d run back and look at the picture.”

Sometimes there would be too much light. Other instances, not enough. But the Polaroid experiments grew more and more elaborate, sometimes lasting two nights if the band was staying over in town a second day. Nicks would leave a note for the maid not to move any of her carefully situated backdrops. She’s amazed that no hotel chain ever commented on her strange nocturnal hobby. “I mean, I would completely destroy the suite making my set,” she says. “And I had a lot of hats that folded up, that I could just store in a suitcase, so I had a lot of little props that I traveled with. So in a lot of my pictures—and some pictures where I actually did get people to sit for me—everybody is wearing all these same hats. And I’d be blasting music, like Led Zeppelin or something, and I’d be singing, and suddenly it would be five o’clock, and I’d go ‘Okay—time for bed.’ Because I could sleep until one, and that would be eight hours. And either I’d get the picture, or I wouldn’t, and I’d cut up all the really bad ones and throw them away. I was doing my own deleting.”

Nicks loves going into detail about her Polaroids. Photography really means a lot to her. And it was nice being in a stadium-sized outfit like Fleetwood Mac, she admits. In the middle of the night, if she ran out of film, she’d simply send the band’s tour manager out in a private limo to comb 24-hour stores for more (he’d usually only be able to procure a couple of boxes). The experience taught her two important things. By adding and subtracting lamps, and rarely using an eye-reddening flash, she learned how to perfectly light herself. “So I could take a great picture of anybody,” she declares. “I could take a picture of a really unattractive, anorexic person, or I could take a picture of a very heavy person, or I could even take a picture of a person who didn’t want their picture taken. I could take a picture of them, no matter what, and it would be in my hands, not theirs.”

Additionally, she continues, she learned how to inhabit the fleeting persona she had momentarily created. “That’s how I learned to be the kind of model who was not just sitting there and looking at the camera, doing a dippy smile. I was in the world.” She stops, then repeats, “I was in the world. And I would be a courtesan from the 1800s, or I would be a modern girl from Paris in 1920—I would think of all this. So it was very much like writing songs, in a way, because I would just create a whole little magical world for each particular picture.”

Stevie Nicks 24 Karat Gold -- Songs from the VaultSo why hire a photographer and schedule some elaborate shoot? Nicks—who recently opened an Instagram account and employs a high-tech Canon these days—asked Stewart. Why not paw through those shoeboxes? “And within two minutes, I had the front and the back shots,” she says of the ethereal, doe-eyed Polaroids that bookend 24 Karat. “I pulled out the first one and thought ‘This is a golden picture, a 24-karat gold picture. And I picked up the one that’s on the back, and said ‘This is a golden picture, too, but it’s very different.’ It’s like the front cover is ‘I’m happy with you,’ but the back cover is like the dealer—she’s more rough, raw, and you’re a little scared of her, maybe. And that’s the two sides of me, totally—that’s the two Gemini sides of me.” She found others to complement various album tracks.

The songs themselves have a spooky aura of déjà vu hovering over them. On the organ-embossed “The Dealer,” for instance, her classic whiskeyed voice is smokier, well-seasoned, stronger than ever as she mournfully warbles “I was the mistress of my fate, I was the card shark/ If I’d looked a little ahead, I would have run away.” And almost conversationally, she inhabits “Mabel Normand,” her take on the tragic silent film star who fell prey to cocaine addiction decades before Nicks ever discovered the drug. The lilting, acoustic-strummed “Hard Advice” recounts some serious counsel offered to her by her longtime chum Tom Petty, after she left rehab for Klonopin addiction, long after she kicked the coke habit.

“I asked Tom to write a song with me, because I was having a little writer’s block,” Nicks remembers. He told her no, he wouldn’t do it, that she was a great composer herself, and all she needed to do was sit down at her piano and play. He wasn’t kidding around. “And when Tom Petty looks at you like that, like you think he might have a knife in his boot and he’s going to cut a lock of your hair off and set it on fire, you have to listen to him. Because he’s really smart. He’s really wise. And he’s gone through a lot in his life.”

Ditto for Nicks herself. She still growls, recalling the post-Rumours rumor that—since she typically wore ebony onstage and danced her own mystical fairy-princess hora—she was probably involved in witchcraft, or at least more Earth-mothery white magic. “And I let that witch thing bother me a lot in 1976, ’77, when all of a sudden I started getting some wacko fan mail,” she says. “And I made some serious statements, like ‘Look, I wear black because it makes me look thin, not because I’m a witch! So let’s drop that witch thing.’ So when I got offered my American Horror Story role, and I found out that it wasn’t just a walk-on, that I was really written in as a witch, it kind of freaked me out at first. But then I thought ‘You know what? Come on—this is a story. It’s fun, and I need to enjoy this and not be freaked out about it. So hey, bring it on!’”

Then the playful truth sank in: American Horror Story: Coven was just Glee in horror drag. “That’s what Ryan Murphy and his writing partner Brad do—they write about misfits,” she’s concluded. “And they explain it in all different kinds of ways. A bunch of witches in a coven? They were all witches that didn’t fit in anywhere, and didn’t understand their powers, and all go to a school for witches. Same thing in Glee—the kids are in school, and they have their amazing teachers and their amazing music that keeps everybody happy and laughing and dancing, even when they have all these problems. And the quarterback can be a quarterback and in glee, even if he does get ridiculed for it. That’s what they do. And the way they use music in their shows is just brilliant.”

It didn’t take the novice actress long to acclimate herself on the eerie New Orleans set of Coven. At first, she felt awkward singing to Jessica Lange’s wicked cocktail-swilling character at the keyboard. “And you know we had to film that scene about 50 times,” she explains. “But by the time we got to the last 10 takes that they filmed, it was like it was real—it was really her house, we really were there, and I was really her old friend, and I was singing to her because she’d had a really bad day. It really was perfection—it was something that I will never forget. Ever.”

What does Nicks now know to true, that she didn’t in her wild youth? That time passes, she sighs. And no matter how insurmountable an obstacle seems, you can always get around it, onstage or off. “As long as you’re rehearsed, you’re prepared, and you’ve done your work, you’re going to be fine,” she says. “If you’re prepared and you’re a pro, you’re going to be okay. And I think that goes for anybody, in any kind of job. And you learn that when you’re 66 years old, and you start to actually get it and be a little bit more kind to yourself.”

Take, for example, a recent incident where any less grounded human being would have been screaming in shivery panic. Nicks—sad that she didn’t get to do a Coven with another of the show’s stars, Kathy Bates—was delighted when Bates and her sister came down to watch her act, and then opted to fly back to Hollywood with her. “It was a five-hour flight in a very creepy private plane, and to this day, none of us can figure out how we got this creepy, weird plane,” she shudders. “It had a back seat like a ’57 Chevy, you know? And then very small seats in the front, and it was very dark and dingy. But we needed to get out of there fast and get home, so that’s what they came up with for us.

“So Kathy and her sister were hysterical. She told us all the stories of everything in New Orleans, and the first two seasons of American Horror Story, like the asylum one. And there was lightning and—when we came into L.A.—terrible turbulence, so bad the plane was going sideways. So we really had, like, a happening, an experience up there, and we had four Yorkies with us, too. But the turbulence was so bad, Kathy Bates’ sister said ‘Okay. Here’s how it’s going to read: “Award-winning Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Stevie Nicks and Academy Award-winning, amazing character actress Kathy Bates were killed in an airplane crash today. And there were four others. Oh—and some dogs.”’”

That broke the tension. And Nicks couldn’t stop laughing, as the storm raged. “It was late at night, too, so it all just went along with the American Horror Story theme,” she cackles, but not in a witchy-woman way. “It was like the coven was on the plane!”

Tom Lanham / Paste Magazine / Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Stevie Nicks delivers solid gold performance on Fallon

When last Stevie Nicks met Jimmy Fallon, the latter was wearing a blonde wig and playing the part of Tom Petty for a performance of “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” Last night, Nicks returned to The Tonight Show, this time in support of recent archival release 24 Karat Gold: Songs From The Vault. She delivered a sterling rendition of “Lady” along with a piano ballad version of Fleetwood Mac’s classic “Rhiannon”. Watch both performances below.

Despite the new solo release, Nicks is still out on the road with the Christine McVie-featuring Fleetwood Mac. Their next string of dates picks up in Canada (Winnipeg, to be exact) on November 10th, and they have stops scheduled all over North America through March 31st, 2015. See their full itinerary here.

Ben Kayeon / Consequence of Sound / Tuesday, November 4, 2014

ALBUM REVIEWS: 24 Karat Gold – Songs from the Vault

Positive (10) / Mixed (4)

Fleetwood Mac star heads to Nashville, chasing the songs that nearly got away.

Rating: 7/10

As if Stevie Nicks hasn’t done enough soul-searching during her 40 years in one of the world’s biggest bands… On her eighth solo album, Nicks immerses herself in her past, gathering 16 of her long-lost songs together like errant children and dressing them in traditional costume — the billowing robes and gypsy shawl — before sending them out, fully Nicksed, into the world.

24 Karat Gold – Songs from the Vault finds the 66-year old getting her memories in order with the help of longtime associates Waddy Wachtel (he first played with her on 1973’s Buckingham Nicks) and Dave Stewart, producer of Nicks’ last solo set, 2011’s In Your Dreams, and a band of hired hands in Nashville who knocked out new versions of Nicks’ old songs in 15 days last May. In Your Dreams, somewhat tarnished by Dave Stewart’s sweet tooth, took 14 months. Fleetwood Mac records take far longer.

The songs in question stem from demos Nicks wrote at various stages in her career between 1969 and 1995, intended for her solo or Fleetwood Mac albums. One ballad, the bonus track “Twisted,” written in 1995 with Lindsey Buckingham for the film Twister, she felt deserved a wider audience. “When songs go into movies you might as well dump them out the window as you’re driving by because they never get heard,” she tells Uncut.

Many of these songs will be familiar to Mac devotees, having appeared online and on bootlegs or box sets in one form or another. Indeed, Nicks’ main incentive for the project was to record definitive versions of those unauthorized tracks floating around online that her assistant had drawn to her attention. Nicks hates computers and was once so worried about internet piracy that she didn’t release a solo record between 2001 and 2011, so this principled stance represents some sort of progress; if you can’t beat’em, join’em. “Just because I think computers are ruining the world, I can’t expect everyone to be on my wavelength,” she reasons. But to most, 24 Karat Gold is effectively a brand new album, albeit one that one occasion has the luxury of revelling in the twists and turns of a vintage Nicks number like “Lady,” formerly a fragile piano demo from the mid-’70’s called “Knocking On Doors” that’s now a footstep away from “Landslide.”

With these demos newly upholstered as mid-tempo soft-rock ballads by a solid Nashville outfit, it’s tempting to view the collection as an alternative look at Nicks’ life in music, each song offering a slightly different take on key moments in her colourful career. Nicks, too, her live-in voice stained with experience, seems to relish the chance to reacquaint herself through her lyrics with the girl she once was. The earliest cut here, a corny speakeasy pastiche called “Cathouse Blues,” was written by a 22-year old Nicks in 1969 before she and Buckingham, who played on the original, moved to Los Angeles. By “The Dealer,” a musky Tusk-era tumble, she’s already world-weary: “I was the mistress of my fate, I was the card shark / If I’d’ve looked a little ahead, I would’ve run away,” runs the chorus.

On Bella Donna cast-offs “Belle Fleur” and “If You Were My Love”, Elton John guitarist Davey Johnstone reprises his original role and plays on these new versions. Her trusted foil, Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers, rolls up his sleeves for AOR james “Starshine” and “I Don’t Care”, tracks he just about remembers writing with Nicks in the early 80’s. “Mabel Normand,” a moving parable based on the tragic life of the 1920s silent movie star, came to Nicks when she herself was dancing with the devil in 1985. Following the death of her godson from an accidental overdose in 2012, the song has a more profound resonance today.

As befits a compilation of songs that weren’t up to scratch first time around, 24 Karat Gold contains a few tinpot tracks that even the Nashville boys couldn’t fix. Most, too, spill over the five-minute mark. but as fresh testament from one of Rock’s great survivors, it makes for a fascinating listen.

24 Karat Gold – Songs from the Vault will be released October 6th in the UK.

Piers Martin / Uncut (UK) / September 23, 2014 (November 2014 issue, p.82)


Stevie Nicks: 24 Karat Gold – Songs from the Vault

* * * *1/2 (four and a half stars out of five)

With the subtitle Songs from the Vault, you’d be forgiven if you thought 24 Karat Gold was an archival collection of unreleased material and, in a way, you’d be right. 24 Karat Gold does indeed unearth songs Nicks wrote during her heyday — the earliest dates from 1969, the latest from 1995, with most coming from her late-’70s/early-’80s peak; the ringer is a cover of Vanessa Carlton’s 2011 tune “Carousel,” which could easily be mistaken for Stevie — but these aren’t the original demos, they’re new versions recorded with producer Dave Stewart. Running away from his ornate track record — his production for Stevie’s 2011 record In Your Dreams was typically florid — Stewart pays respect to Nicks’ original songs and period style by keeping things relatively simple while drafting in sympathetic supporting players including guitarists Waddy Wachtel and Davey Johnstone and Heartbreakers Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell. It’s certainly not an exacting re-creation of Sound City but Stewart adheres to the slick, hazy feel of supremely well-appointed professional studios, so 24 Karat Gold has a tactile allure. Sonically, it’s bewitching — the best-sounding record she’s made since 1983’s The Wild Heart but, substance-wise, it’s her best since that album, too. If there aren’t many remnants of the flinty, sexy rocker of “Stand Back” (the opening “Starshine” is an exception to the rule), there’s enough seductive, shimmering soft rock and the emphasis on Laurel Canyon hippie folk-rock feels right and natural. Retrospectively, it’s a surprise that Nicks sat on these songs for years, but that only indicates just how purple a patch she had during Fleetwood Mac’s glory days. It’s a good thing she dug through her back pages and finished these songs, as she’s wound up with one of her strongest albums.

Stephen Thomas Erlewine / All Music / Monday, October 6, 2014


Review Stevie Nicks looks back on shimmering 24 Karat Gold

Stevie Nicks
24 Karat Gold: Songs From the Vault
(Warner Bros.)
* * *1/2 (three and a half stars out of four)

Now that young bands such as Haim and One Direction are reviving the polished pop-rock of Fleetwood Mac, it seems only right that the group’s iconic frontwoman, Stevie Nicks, would look back as well.

As its title suggests, 24 Karat Gold: Songs From the Vault offers new recordings of tunes Nicks wrote as long ago as 1969; the most recent is from 1995. You can tell the material is old too. In the aching “Hard Advice” she sings about listening to the radio and hanging out in a record store. (Remember those?)

But Nicks has always found fresh drama in the past — think of “Rhiannon,” loosely inspired by an ancient Welsh legend — and here she sounds no less energized chewing over bygone resentments in the throbbing title track and pondering bad decisions in “The Dealer,” which rides a silky groove reminiscent of the one in the Mac’s indelible “Dreams.”

For “Mabel Normand” she reaches back further, sympathizing with a real-life silent film star thought to have struggled with cocaine.

Recorded mostly in Nashville with Nicks’ longtime guitarist Waddy Wachtel and Dave Stewart (who also produced Nicks’ excellent “In Your Dreams” from 2011), “24 Karat Gold” makes room amid the retrospection for some new sounds. “Cathouse Blues” touches unexpectedly on ragtime, while “Blue Water,” with backing vocals by Lady Antebellum, shimmers with traces of country and soul.

There’s also a couple of crunching hard-rock numbers, including “I Don’t Care,” that feel powered by the same aggression Fleetwood Mac channeled on its 2013 arena tour. (Now reunited with Christine McVie, the group launched yet another road show last week and will hit the Forum in November.)

Whatever the arrangement, though, Nicks’ voice — that signature drone that’s gotten only more appealingly imperious with age — defines the music here. Her singing dominates as easily now as it ever did.

Twitter: @mikaelwood. Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

Mikael Wood / Los Angeles Times / Monday, October 6, 2014


Stevie Nicks, 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault

(Review: Positive)

The first question you’re likely to have about Stevie Nicks’s new album is, when was this recorded? It’s almost impossible to tell, because Nicks sounds so classic, as if surveying each decade of her long career on her own and with Fleetwood Mac. 24 Karat Gold is Stevie at her Nicks-iest: a gold dust woman, caught mid-twirl.

Nicks notes in the press materials that most of these songs were written between 1969 and ’87, with a pair from the early ’90s, but the album was recorded this year in Nashville and Los Angeles.

To her credit, she and fellow producers Dave Stewart and Waddy Wachtel have a light touch here, letting Nicks’s silvery voice lead with grace and grit. So many of these songs evoke yesteryear Nicks, from the serpentine, “Rhiannon”-like groove of “Mabel Normand” to the starry prettiness of “If You Were My Love.” “Blue Water” has a dusky country vibe; it could have been a Fleetwood hit, right down to its line “And I wait for the sound of my gypsy.”

There are also new shades of her — all the color of midnight blue, of course — including a jazzy little number called “Cathouse Blues.” “I just care that you love me,” she growls on the heavy rocker “I Don’t Care.” And a piano ballad, “Lady,” is big and bare, a chance to savor Nicks in full splendor. (Out Tuesday)

ESSENTIAL “Blue Water”

Stevie Nicks performs with Fleetwood Mac at TD Garden on Oct. 10 and Oct. 25. James Reed can be reached at jreed@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJamesReed

James Reed / Boston Globe / Monday, October 6, 2014


Review: Stevie Nicks – 24 Karat Gold

Rating: 7/10

Immediately 24 Karat Gold is exactly what you’re expecting from Stevie: it’s all jazz piano and bluesy guitar with that husky rock n’ roll girl voice that just makes you want to dedicate the rest of your life to growing your hair our and wearing lots of tassels. But Stevie has been solo for quite a while, and her personal style has developed somewhat, with moderate to pleasant results.

Lyrically, the album is much weaker than those that have come before it; the storytelling is clumsy and a bit desperate, and often the languid content is mirrored by a lethargic tone. There’s a glassy attempt at depth in many of the songs, and in favour of her once minimalist style of writing Stevie seems to be pouring any thought she fancies into 24 Karat Gold, with the tone of a person who wrote an entire album to make someone listen to their problems.

Saying this, one place where Stevie Nicks could never fail is musically: there is no denying that she stands strong with off-beat piano and the smoothest guitar melodies, not to mention the odd use of the pedal to remind us all that she’s a rock n’ roller at heart. Rescued by their excellent instrumental arrangements, “Lady” and “I Don’t Care” are probably the best songs on the album, followed by the slightly weaker “Carousel,” which is one of the few songs on the album that doesn’t sound like a 100bpm diary entry.

There are lots of positives to this album; Stevie’s voice is warm and relaxing, and there is not an ounce of aggression in her tone. I would recommend the album is you’re feeling pensive, or just nostalgic for old skool chick rock.

Jodie Rigden / The Knowledge (UK) / Monday, October 13, 2014


ALBUM REVIEW: Stevie Nicks 24 Karat Gold – Song from the Vault

(Review: Positive)

Fleetwood Mac may have just started a mammoth tour of the United States, their first with songbird Christine McVie in 17 years, but Stevie Nicks has still managed to release a new solo album, this month.

24 Karat Gold: Songs From the Vault, is a collection of 14 songs from Nicks’ enormous back catalogue of demos that never made it onto her records- songs which were written between 1969 and 1995.

Recorded over a three-month period, Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart was once again on production duties. After producing her last album, In Your Dreams, which was something of a let-down both musically and lyrically compared to 2001’s Trouble in Shangri-La, 24 Karat Gold makes much more of a statement than both of the aforementioned releases.

This may be, in part, due to Nicks herself also producing the record, with the help of long-time collaborator Waddy Watchel, who featured heavily on her early solo albums.

The reason this record has much more of an impact than her more recent albums, is possibly because each of the 14 tracks follow the same theme. In the liner notes, Nicks states: “ Each song is a lifetime. Each song has a soul. Each song has a purpose. Each song is a love story… They represent my life behind the scenes, the secrets, the broken hearts, the broken hearted and the survivors.”

Kicking off with the Rolling Stones-esque Starshine, Nicks’ unmistakeable nasal voice remains as constant as her chiffon scarves and platform boots.

Next up is “The Dealer,” which was demoed for both her first solo album, Bella Donna, and her third, Rock A Little. Finally making it onto 24 Karat Gold, it is very similar to the superior first version, demoed for Bella Donna.

Other fine up-tempo tracks include “I Don’t Care,” the token snarling ‘rock-out’ moment, which features at least once on most of Nicks’ solo records; and “Cathouse Blues,” more honky tonk in flavour.

That being said, this album’s finest moments take shape in the form of its darkest tracks. The title track begins with a pounding bassline, and goes into a haunting piano rhythm and jarring guitar part from Mr Watchell, as Ms Nicks sings about the chains of love.

Mabel Normand is another highlight on the record. Originally demoed for the Rock A Little album in 1985 – a time when Nicks was paying the price for her years of cocaine abuse – it documents the life of the silent film actress it is named after, who had the same substance battle several decades before. It becomes clear that Nicks is writing about Normand and herself in the song, as she sings: “She did her work, but her heart was quietly crying. I guess she even felt guilty about even dying.”

Gorgeously simple ballads, such as If You Were My Love and Hard Advice, nicely juxtapose the rockier material on the album.

24 Karat Gold is probably the most consistently fine selection of Nicks’ self-penned material since her 1983 album, The Wild Heart. A fine selection of similar yet different songs, each holding their own within this album, which is not something that could be said for Nicks’ last solo effort.

This is a real insight into the last 45 years of the life of one of the most unique and mystical talents there has ever been. Nicks has held nothing back, this time.

James Nuttall / Yorkshire Evening Post (UK) / Monday, October 13, 2014


Stevie Nicks 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault Review

(Review: Positive)

Listening to 24 Karat Gold is like being caught in a time warp. Then is now, now is then, and the listener feels confronted by Stevie Nicks’ 1981 solo debut Bella Donna’s scandalous twin: the sister sent away for telling truths no one wanted known.

But time and truth have a way of not being denied. Ditto songs that yearn to be heard. And so Nicks, one of romance and gypsy mysticism’s great ciphers, returns to these songs of love left to die, romances unrealized and adventures that haunted her long after their end.

Written from 1967 through the mid-’00s, it is the chronicle of a wild heart that knew no caution and took the battering inherent to living amongst the outlaws. Advance press confirms these songs were inspired by Fleetwood Mac partners/former paramours Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood, Don Henley and good friend Tom Petty.

In the fraught wreckage of a life fully inhabited, if perhaps faithlessly shared, Nicks puts her angst outside her skin and stitches the songs up with Waddy Wachtel’s searing guitar lines, notably on the Petty homage “Hard Advice.” In many ways, Wachtel’s twisting sting and bass player Michael Rhodes’ melodic throb give these songs shape and offer presence.

But the real star is Nicks’ voice, every bit as throaty and suggestive as in her “Rhiannon”/”Edge of 17” heyday. Earthy and resonant, it teases on the gently undulating “Cathouse Blues,” sweeps wide-open across the luminous “Starshine” and haunts the lonesome piano-grounded “Lady.”

If “I Don’t Care” is an awkward lite-metal track that topples into pensive songwriter territory and “All The Beautiful Worlds” is a pretty-enough romp through a painfully self-conscious implosion, the ambitious “Mabel Normand” considers Nicks’ own storied addiction against the prism of an obscure ‘20s comedienne of that name.

And that is the challenge of this collection.

Nicks teams again with Dave Stewart, and the excesses are indulged to a lush extreme which doesn’t always serve her songs. While “Blue Water” feels like classic-if-generic SoCal ‘70s rock, with harmonies from country’s boy-girl-boy crossover Lady Antebellum, Mark Knopfler’s co-written “She Loves Him Still” is as gorgeous as any of Nicks’ signature ballads (“Landslide,” “Beautiful Child”), proving Nicks’ magic remains.

That’s the vexation and amazement of Gold’s frozen-in-amber reality. For as much as her acolytes wish they could twirl in chiffon scarves and platforms, few remain as ageless or beyond the clock as Nicks; in that gap ripples the nostalgia that stains these songs.

Holly Gleason / Paste Magazine / Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Stevie Nicks: 24 Karat Gold-Songs from the Vault

* * *1/2 (three and a half stars out of five)

The title is misleading: Originally written by Nicks between 1969 and 1995, these are new recordings cut with Nashville session pros. But it’s an inspired move — after all, Music City pop scientists have cribbed shamelessly from Fleetwood Mac for years. With California expat steel man Dan Dugmore as cultural bridge alongside veteran Laurel Canyon scene guitarist Waddy Wacthtel, plus Nicks’ longtime backing singers Sharon Celani and Lori Nicks refracting Mac harmonies, Nicks conjures the old black lace magic and makes it feel new.
Not all the material is top shelf, and her voice is starting to show its milage. But Nicks uses it to her advantage. Most convincing: “Mabel Normand” a tribute to a powerhouse silent film star and legendary coke fiend with whom Nicks apparently identifies (go figure). Best flashback: the triple harmony California dreaming of “Belle Fleur” (“Canyon dancing/ All night long”). Second best flashback: “The Dealer,” a casino metaphor that — like many songs here — may or may not be about Lindsey Buckingham. Most surprising: “Cathouse Blues,” a Dixieland-band-bordello strut in which the singer confides, “I need some new red velvet shoes,” then purrs, “I’m still a dreamer’s fancy. True that.

Will Hermes / Rolling Stone / October 26, 2014


CD Reviews: Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks 24 Karat Gold – Songs From the Vault
Reprise Records
* * * * (four stars out of five)

For all the guys who fantasised about being with her and the girls who wanted to be her, Stevie Nicks is back to her best with an album of new tracks that could have been plucked from the ’70s and ’80s.
After the theft of demos from her house, Nicks put Dave Stewart in the producer’s chair and with a host of rock legends reworked the previously unheard tracks.

24 Karat Gold is so laden with gems it seems absurd only to hear them now.

Stewart stays faithful to a hazy vibe synonymous with Nicks’ sultry huskiness, as Stevie reels back her years of romantic misfortune.

Single download: Mabel Normand
For those who like: Fleetwood Mac, Marianne Faithful, Sheryl Crow, Tom Petty

Mark Orton / Otago Daily News (NZ) / Monday, october 20, 2014


Album Review: Stevie Nicks – 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault

“Each song is a lifetime. Each song has a soul. Each song has a purpose. Each song is a love story.” – Stevie Nicks

Before there was Taylor Swift there was this woman: a self-confessed poet, a woman that has lived a notoriously interesting life; Gold Dust Woman anyone? Stevie Nicks remains to be an influential story teller, and a clever one at that.

24 Karat Gold isn’t a continuation of that journey but a glimpse of a past; a tale that has intrigued the masses for over twenty-five years, yet was understood through her music. It is difficult to categorise such an album, with its eclectic mixture of country, folk and old school rock that I would simply call a story.

Opening with a bluesy number “Starshine,“ 24 Karat Gold is an album that existing fans will rejoice in and cause new fans to emerge, and with that undertone of country flowing through there is certainly room for it within the world of Garth Brooks and Reba McEntire. In all honesty, Nicks created the way for such story tellers to exist.

Personally, I feel a lot can be learnt from this album, especially for young songwriters. Stevie Nicks has that extra layer, that extra part of her soul to bare that allows her to create a diversity and power that can be told through this medium. We even get a hint of rock ‘n’ roll with punchy “I Don’t Care” and a guest appearance from Lady Antebellum on “Blue Water,” a true test to their ability that her trust was gifted to them. Ending with the mellow “She Loves Him Still,” which is the perfect way to wind down the album with its addition of the cello and violin, it reiterates the fact that Nicks creates beautiful music, as well as stories.

For those afraid that 24 Karat Gold is all about being deep and meaningful, don’t be. You will be taken on a journey of emotions, where you will want to dance to “Cathouse Blues” and “If You Were My Love,” as well as wish you had it to play on your record player, which is exactly how I feel. As someone who appreciates and loves vinyl, this particular record suits it to the ground and reminds me of how music is as its best: raw and honest.

My favourite track is a tricky one to pick, but it has to be “The Dealer” – I can feel it in my heart.

@georgiejourno

Georgie Robbins / Cult Noise (UK) / Friday, November 14, 2014


Mixed Reviews (4)

Music review: 24 Karat Gold: Songs From the Vault

New Stevie Nicks collection holds both riches and rejects from Fleetwood Mac star’s past

* * * (three stars out of five)
Stevie Nicks, star of Fleetwood Mac, has rerecorded songs from earlier years for her new solo collection.

Catchy music can obscure the meaning of a song just as surely as it can enhance it. When a melody achieves perfection, it steals attention from the lyrical core. That dynamic forms a key part of the puzzle of pop. But it has special relevance to the latest release from Stevie Nicks.

Unlike her beautifully pruned work with Fleetwood Mac, many songs on her latest solo work fray at the seams, or wander outside the confines of an ideal melody. The album does contains a few must-have highlights, but key parts feature lyrics that wobble awkwardly on their tunes. Yet those very flaws and indulgences wind up casting a clearer light on Nicks’ character, and concerns, than ever.

There’s good reason for the music’s wavering quality: The album is a collection of castoff songs from Nicks’ 45-year career. True, Nicks recorded all the music anew over the last year, but she wrote most of the material between 1969 and 1987. A few songs date from 1994-95.

Any Nicks-oholic will immediately notice her trademark lyrical tics. Words like “silver,” “dream” and “chains” keep turning up. She’s often left “alone in a room” or found standing “out in the rain.” There’s also her tendency to split her inner voice into a conversation between what “I said” and what “she said.” Nicks’ broader themes also hold — the tug between professional achievement and personal relationships, between the desire to connect and the need for free-range love.

The most finely formed songs use those themes to raise goosebumps. In the piquant “Hard Advice,” Nicks recounts the tough words from a friend, who told her to quit pining for a famous musician who has already moved on. As with many Nicks songs, speculation on the boldfaced lover’s identity is very much encouraged.

“Lady” pushes further, with its grand melody and gripping lyrics that find Nicks wondering if her loneliness will one day devour her.

The sole cover — of Vanessa Carlton’s “Carousel” — both furthers the theme and breaks up the melodic familiarity.

Otherwise, the album meanders through songs of significant energy, but with middling tunes (the Tom Petty-esque “Starshine”), or with lyrics tha turn ­verbose (the mess “Mabel Normand”).

If Lindsey Buckingham had his way, this stuff would surely have been sharpened. But there’s a happy consequence to his absence. We get pure Stevie — needier than some might find comfortable, but also unexpectedly wise. It’s too much for the casual listener but catnip for the devoted.

Stevie Nicks appears with Fleetwood Mac at the Garden Tuesday.

jfarber@nydailynews.com

Jim Farber / New York Daily News / Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Stevie Nicks 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault

* * * (three stars out of five)

24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault is a glorified act of copyright protection. Stevie Nicks reportedly decided to revisit old demos when she was informed that they’d been bootlegged and uploaded to the Internet. This was no doubt a shock to the technophobic Nicks, who doesn’t own a cellphone and communicates with fans via handwritten letters that are uploaded to her website by members of her team.

The material, written from 1969 through the ’90s and newly recorded here, is significantly sharper than what was found on Nicks’s last studio album, 2011’s In Your Dreams. The new recordings mostly dispense with the awkward electronic flourishes (vocal distortion, canned synths) that have marred other recent Nicks-related recordings. “Starshine” is given an uptempo, straight-ahead rock treatment that recalls Nicks’s collaborations with Tom Petty, while on “The Dealer” she almost perfectly embodies her ’70s glory days with Fleetwood Mac. The latter finds Nicks looking back at a failed relationship, though it cleverly doubles as a longer-term survey of loves lost and reconciled, particularly with bandmates Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood. “If I’d known a little more, I’d have run away,” she laments, but of course she didn’t, and now she’s on a sold-out tour with both of those men.

Old flames occupy much of the subject matter throughout the album, and even when Nicks isn’t explicitly singing about herself, it’s hard not to read autobiographical meanings into the songs. The silent-era comedienne Mabel Normand, who gets a tribute song here, is a character with whom Nicks clearly identifies, singing about her “quietly crying” heart underneath all her beauty and talent. And Nicks even tips her hat to friend Vanessa Carlton with a cover of the latter’s “Carousel,” adding little to it beyond some fairy-tale harpsichord, though there’s poignancy in seeing Nicks return the favor of paving the way for Carlton’s career with a song about how everything comes back again.

Unfortunately, 24 Karat is stuffed with too many stately piano-and-guitar ballads that return to the same theme of bygone romance. The one wild turn from that format is “Cathouse Blues,” a slinky ode to Nicks’s high-heeled strut that sounds like something you’d hear wafting from a sweaty bar on the Mississippi River. While not Nicks’s first time fetishizing the South (see “New Orleans”), it’s unfortunately so ill-suited to the California mystical dream-girl aesthetic that she’s carefully cultivated over the years that it comes off as an unintended joke.

There’s a fundamental paradox to Nicks’s brand, which she once referred to in a moment of rare self-awareness as “the Stevie Nicks thing.” Though she plays the perpetually tender, romantic, emotionally available, spurned woman, Nicks has always had an air of cool detachment that puts her at a remove from listeners. On songs like “The Dealer,” “She Loves Him Still,” and “Hard Advice,” she re-spins the same old image of a Nicks who’s gripped by long-ago love affairs with fellow musicians—”dreams to be sold,” as she puts it on the title track—while her current life is kept somewhere out of view. The most illuminating moment is on “Lady,” which reveals the deep chasm between the naïve woman who wrote it after moving to L.A. to become a rock star and the 66-year-old she is now, looking uncertainly over her empire. “What is to become of me?” she pleads with appropriate dramatic irony. Nick has always given us just enough snatches of insight to keep us wondering the very same thing.

LABEL: Warner Bros. RELEASE DATE: October 7, 2014

Paul Rice /Slant Magazine / Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Stevie Nicks – 24 Karat Gold: Songs From The Vault

(Review: Mixed)

(Warner) UK release date: 6 October 2014

Fleetwood Mac‘s ‘classic’ line-up (ok, the classic line-up post-Peter Green) may be back together and touring, but the wait goes on for a new album. Despite the arena tours and the yearly rumours (pun intended) about the band headlining Glastonbury, Say You Will from 2003 remains the most recent Fleetwood Mac record.

Some may say that’s hardly important with such a back catalogue of riches to draw upon, but those who are really experiencing withdrawal symptons may well be sated with this, Mac stalwart Stevie Nicks‘ 10th solo album. And it’s no ordinary solo album – as the slightly self-aggrandising title, 24 Karat Gold: Songs From The Vault, would suggest, this is a collection of old demo versions that Nicks has abandoned over the years, spruced up and re-recorded. So, there’s Fleetwood Mac songs that could have been, lost Buckingham/Nicks numbers – everything in fact, to make a hardcore Mac fan salivate.

It doesn’t sound like a hotch-potch of songs all thrown together either, as you may expect from that description. Indeed, most of the songs that Nicks has resurrected are strong enough to make you wonder why she scrapped them in the first place. And, considering that the timespan of these songs stretches from the late ’60s up to the mid ’90s, it sounds like a surprisingly cohesive album, even if the hour-plus running time means that a more judicious editor would have ensured that some tracks remained in demo form.

There is some gold unearthed though, albeit maybe not of the 24 Karat variety. “Starshine” kicks the album off to an energetic start, and the sad tale of silent film star Mabel Normand, who died at the age of 37 of tuberculosis, following years of cocaine abuse is a story that’s obviously close to Nicks’ heart. Long-term Nicks fans who scour the internet for bootlegs will be well aware of the gorgeous country workout “Blue Water,” which sounds – on this version at least – like it would have fitted in nicely onto the Mirage album, not least because the word ‘gypsy’ is referenced in the lyrics.

Talking of “Gypsy,” that famous Fleetwood Mac song is more than musically echoed in the title track, one of a few numbers that are inevitably reminiscent of Nicks’ band’s golden era. Yet this doesn’t sound like a ‘lost’ Fleetwood Mac album, mainly because Nicks’ backing band have the nouse not to copy Buckingham, Fleetwood and the McVies. Instead, it sounds like what it is – a collection of old songs, spring cleaned and brought up to date.

Obviously, Nicks’ voice has lost its wispy, breathy quality over time, but her more mature, throaty growl sounds perfect for these songs. Her performance on the powerful ballad Lady is genuinely affecting, the sound of a woman looking back on her life and contemplating regret and loneliness (as the song’s key line has it: “I’m tired of knocking on doors when there’s nobody there”. There’s also some familiar lyrical ground trodden over, such as Hard Advice’s intriguing tale of a doomed affair with a rock star and the inevitable ‘is this about Lindsey?’ song, “She Loves Him Still.”

With only the creaky, clunky “Cathouse Blues” and the rather pointless Vanessa Carlton cover “Carousel” counting as real duds, this is a surprisingly strong album considering it consists of songs initially rejected or abandoned by their creator. Nothing on 24 Karat Gold comes close to classic Fleetwood Mac songs, but long-term fans will delight in hearing decently recorded versions of tracks that they may otherwise only have heard as scratchy demos.

John Murphy / Music OHM (UK) / Thursday, October 9, 2014


Stevie Nicks: 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault

Rating: 6/10

Stevie Nicks Empties the Vault

Everyone wishes that their favorite artist or band would release a rarities album filled with unreleased songs, B-sides, and other hidden gems. With 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault, that is exactly what Stevie Nicks fans gets, an album composed of reworked, and in some cases, completely reimagined demos, some dating as far back as the late ‘60s. And despite this collection being composed of songs recorded at different periods in time, it’s still a surprisingly cohesive and unified album that is as much a part of Stevie Nicks’ canon as are beloved albums like Bella Donna and The Wild Heart.

Although it is a distinctly Stevie Nicks experience, certain songs on 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault do borrow from other bands, and/or popular musical styles from the time they were originally recorded. With its glam infused blues sound, lead track “Starshine” is reminiscent of early ‘70s Rolling Stones, and its eerily easy to envision Mick Jagger singing along with Stevie. “Mabel Normand” has that patented Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers pop-rock sound to it that adds an intriguing dimension to Nicks’ hauntingly vivid lyrics. Adding to the diverse nature of the album is “Twisted”, a song that sounds better suited for the adult contemporary charts of 1995.

Not only is it a refreshingly eclectic sounding album, it’s still one that is wholly and uniquely Stevie Nicks. Amongst the decade spanning diverse sounds, reminiscent of other bands, Nicks even finds time to include other artists on this album. Lady Antebellum provides backing vocals on “Blue Water”, as well as a superb cover of Vanessa Carlton’s “Carousel”, which deals with the uncontrollable passing of time, something that Nicks’ lyrics have dealt with for over 40 years now.

One of the album highlights, “She Still Loves Him”, features one of the most poignant and underrated collaborations of her career with music and a melody written by Dire Straits member Mark Knopfler. “She Still Loves Him” answers the question of “What Stevie Nicks album would be complete without a love song to Lindsey Buckingham?” It’s the direct sequel to one of the most beloved B-sides of all time in “Silver Springs”, another songs written by Nicks for Buckingham. Nicks is the titular “She” as Buckingham is “Him”, the misunderstood object of her affection, and it’s a proclamation, better yet, an exaltation of her love for him despite the passing of time and the impossibility of ever being with him again. The entirety of her relationship with Buckingham can be summed up in one of the last lines of the album: “Oh no, they would not like it much anyway, but she still loves him.” It’s strikingly powerful, yet somberly intimate which makes it a Stevie Nicks classic after the first listen.

Despite the fact that the songs on the album were recorded at different points, and despite the fact that they are influenced by the times in which they were recorded, what saves the collection from falling off the rails, which it very easily could have, is Stevie Nicks’ ever present aura. All of her songs, even when with Fleetwood Mac, possess an intangibility to them. There’s a certain enchantment to all the songs on the album that blends in nicely with the rest of her catalog. Even an outlandish track like “Cathouse Blues” with its snazzy 1940s sound is still imbued with Nicks’ gypsy charm.

Just as much as she borrows from other musicians and sounds, she also borrows from herself on 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault. “Dealer” sounds like an updated version of “Gypsy” even though it was written and recorded around the time of Tusk. Nonetheless, it’s still interesting to listen to these tracks knowing their chronology and literally listening to how her own personal sound and style has changed over the years. If you know Stevie Nicks, it’s pretty easy to ascertain when each song on this album was originally recorded.

One thing that has most definitely changed over the years is Nicks’ voice. At her best, she sounds exactly how you’d think 29 year old Stevie Nicks would sound at age 66. At her worst, on “If You Were My Love”, she sounds like Bob Dylan with a stuffy nose. Despite some pitfalls and missteps, the raspy, scratchy vocals of Stevie Nicks are still preserved and come through rather nicely when all is said and done.

Bear in mind that being 16 tracks deep, this is a long album clocking in at 70 minutes. Understandably, pacing problems ensue. While it’s thoughtful of Nicks to dig deep into her unreleased catalog, the middle third of the album drags on a little too much as the middle five songs can, and should have, all been cut down by a minute each. The pacing of the album isn’t as flawed as Exile on Main Street, nor does drag its feet through its most boring section, but halfway through 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault listeners will get antsy waiting for the pace to quicken again. Thankfully with “Watch Chain”, one of the standout tunes, the album recovers and conservatively sprints to the finish line with tracks that range from the passable (“Hard Advice”), to the mesmerizing (“She Still Loves Him” and “Carousel”).

It’s great to see an artist dig so far back and deliver an album of unreleased, and unused material, especially when their fanbase has been begging for one. 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault owes its inception to the rampant number of bootlegged copies circulating YouTube. Clearly there was a demand for an album like this, and Stevie Nicks certainly delivered. Albums like these are intended solely for the real fans, as casual listeners would like two or three songs, but they wouldn’t fully appreciate it as much as others would. With such a mix of songs spanning almost 40 years, Stevie Nicks proves that if you open the vault, you might as well empty it out.

Andrew Doscas / PopMatters / Tuesday November 25, 2014

Andrew Doscas is a pop culture analyst who seeks to explore the intrinsic meaning of all medium that make up our popular culture. He tries to make sense of society by using Batman Forever, The Who and the 1993-1994 New York Knicks as makeshift paradigms for the entire universe. In his spare time he writes for his own blog at nowherebutpop.com where he tries to defend One Hot Minute and explain why most musicians eventually go insane.