Release Date: Oct 7, 2014
Record label: Reprise
Genre(s): Contemporary Pop/Rock, Album Rock, Soft Rock
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..
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 Wachtel, 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.
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.
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.
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.