Stevie Nicks Sounds Golden on ’24 Karat Gold’
Veteran Stevie Nicks might’ve confused people with the title of her latest album, 24 Karat Gold – Songs From the Vault. The reason being, the new studio album from Nicks is assumed to be a compilation effort rather than a true follow up to Nick’s 2011 LP, In Your Dreams. It is a new effort in regards to being recorded in 2014, though many of the songs were written in past by Nicks, dating back to the late 60s! The final results – spectacular!
“Starshine” opens 24 Karat Gold electrifyingly with a driving groove, quick tempo, and assertive vocals by Nicks. Dynamic, filled with bold guitars and bluesy, unfurled organ, “Starshine” definitely gets the listener’s attention by all means. Follow up “The Dealer” may be even more alluring, with Nicks sounding nothing short of terrific. The songwriting, particularly the refrain, stands out the most:
“I was the mistress of my fate / I gave it all out / If I’d have really known different / you’d have to watch out.”
“Mabel Normand” establishes a sound rhythmic groove, including an excellent blend of acoustic and electric guitars. A key takeaway from “Mabel Normand” is the strength and overall uniqueness of the songwriting. It isn’t catchy like the opening duo, but may be written with more profundity. On “Blue Water,” Lady Antebellum assists Nicks, providing her with some chilling vocal harmonies. Nicks is always in command though.
“Cathouse Blues” represents a complete change of pace – jazz – go figure! Tongue-n-cheek the record is, Nicks deserve tremendous praise for her incredible versatility and eclecticism. Title track “24 Karat Gold” proceeds, restoring the ‘pop/rock order.’ Another exemplary written number, the refrain shines goldenly:
“There were dreams to be sold (chains of chains) / you liked my 24 karat gold chain of chains (chain of chains).”
The “Hard Advice” might be some kind of ‘pill to swallow,’ but it is another consistent, enjoyable offering from Nicks. This definitely has that vintage Nicks quality about it, and this is obvious from the onset. “He gives such hard advice / he says don’t think twice,” She sings at one point, “Turn off the radio / it was finished long ago / Go write some real songs / this is all wrong.” Brilliant!
Standout “Lady” finds Nick accompanied by initially piano, which allows for Nick’s truly distinct pipes to shine in all their glory. The arrangement never adds many instruments – more full-bodied piano and bass as the foundation – nor does it need to. Organ wails soulfully during the intro of “I Don’t Care,” which initially seems to be another ballad. Wrong! – “I Don’t Care” quickly evolves into a six-minute plus, head-nodding rocker.
“All The Beautiful Worlds” has a kinder, gentler sound than “I Don’t Care.” Interestingly, even the differences of the titles matches the expected script of both cuts. Vocally, Nicks sounds particularly clear on this “All The Beautiful Worlds.” “Belle Fleur” has slightly more grit than “ All the Beautiful Worlds,” but also still maintains smoothness that’s less raucous than say “I Don’t Care.” Not necessarily a favorite, “Belle Fleur” remains consistent.
“If You Were My Love” opens with a flurry of rhythmic strings, much like the previous “Hard Advice.” On this slower number, the vocal harmonies beneath Nick’s lead add to the overall beauty. Among the best lyrical moments: “With our crosses to bear / and our dreams that still live on.” Nicks does a fine job on Vanessa Carlton cover “Carousel” (from 2011 album Rabbits On The Run), closing strongly with ballad “She Loves Him Still.”
The final verdict on 24 Karat Gold – is “Simply Beautiful,” to quote Al Green. Consistent and enjoyable from start to finish, Stevie Nicks reminds everyone why she’s such a revered musician, no questions asked. Simply stated, Nicks “kills it!”
Gems: “Starshine,” “The Dealer,” “24 Karat Blues,” “Hard Advice” & “Lady”