Stevie gives her moonstruck songs a modern sheen on stellar comeback album
Stevie Nicks ***½
In Your Dreams (Reprise)
Stevie Nicks built her legend on the California-Babylon chronicles she perfected in the Seventies with Fleetwood Mac, and in the Eighties on underrated solo gems like The Other Side of the Mirror. But she still has that eternal edge-of-17 tremor in her voice. The gypsy queen is in royal form on In Your Dreams — it’s not just her first album in 10 years, it’s her finest collection of songs since the Eighties.
In Your Dreams has the high-gloss L.A. production of her collaborators, Glen Ballard and Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart. But the material is Nicks in platform-soled hyper-romantic mode, with her voice in surprisingly supple shape. “Secret Love” is an oldie she wrote in 1976 — who knew she was still keeping secrets from her Rumours days? It seems to be about one of her rock-star beaus, although she coyly maintains she can’t remember which one. Yet it isn’t even one of the better tracks on In Your Dreams. The over-the-top seduction ballad “Italian Summer” could be her answer to the Stones’ “Wild Horses.” It climaxes in a very Stevie credo: “Love was everywhere/You just had to fall.”
Nicks finds storytelling inspiration everywhere, from the Twilight series (“Moonlight [A Vampire’s Dream]”) to Jean Rhys (“Wide Sargasso Sea”). But the real showstopper here is the Edgar Allan Poe tribute “Annabel Lee,” a fan fave that’s been kicking around on bootlegs since the Nineties. It’s a six-minute meditation on love and death with echoes of the Fleetwood Mac classic “Dreams.” Poe’s key line — “The moon never beams without bringing me dreams” — might have been written in 1849, but it was clearly meant for Stevie Nicks to sing.
Key Tracks: “Annabel Lee” “Italian Summer,” “Secret Love”
In Your Dreams is Nicks’ first album in a decade.
Rob Sheffield / Billboard / May 12, 2011