Have you ever listened to Fleetwood Mac all day and night? I am occasionally prone to having an impromptu Fleetwood Mac listening party of sorts, no matter what I am doing, because I just need to have Stevie Nicks’ vocals in the background. “Dreams” will forever be one of my favorite songs in existence; it is nearly impossible not to simply rock back and forth and enjoy the beautiful countryside that the track paints in my head. And don’t even get me started on “Landslide.”
To many, Nicks’ career is defined by her time as the lead of Fleetwood Mac, but she is so much more than that. Although she is the sweetheart of many a classic rock fan’s fantasy, she has not had the easiest life. Yet, through all the rumors, she has always stayed true to her music. Though “Edge of Seventeen” might be considered her only true hit as a solo artist, it is hard not to enjoy her gentle ballads, which contrast so perfectly with her rougher in-your-face tracks. Nicks’ newest endeavor, 24 Karat Gold: Songs From The Vault, is a group of songs she recorded over the entire course of her musical career, and a careful listener can pick up the period of her career from which certain tracks were written. The album is a healthy combination of her softer, country-influenced compositions and those that pick up the pace.
24 Karat Gold’s opener, “Starshine,” is a highlight, setting the album off at a breakneck pace. A driving beat almost forces you to tap your foot. Jazzy organ is played sparingly but perfectly to catch the listener’s ear throughout the song. Nicks’ voice has a feistiness to it that complements the track’s electric guitar. The high point of the song, however, is the organ solo, which follows the song’s guitar solo seamlessly. Short and simple, the organ’s high pitched energy offers a nostalgic taste of the ’70s and ’80s music we all miss and love.
Immediately following “Sunshine,” Nicks gives listeners a little taste of her Fleetwood Mac days with “The Dealer.” The track is charged with the light acoustic chords and sweet soft electric solo (carrying just a touch of attitude) that make so many of Nicks’ songs easy to hear over and over again. As “The Dealer” builds toward its finish, Nicks gives the stage to the electric guitar and a well-placed piano segment that help bring the track to life. “Blue Water” slows down the tempo, creating a blues lounge atmosphere; it’s a calm gift to listeners. The incredibly youthful vocals, mellow guitar grooves, and the back-and-forth duet near the end craft an incredibly relaxing ambience.
“24 Karat Gold,” finally, is an incredible song that has me loving Nicks once again. Sometimes the title track of an album can be a disappointment, but the brooding, bluesy, and downright gloomy song that Nicks has composed in this case is spectacular. The deep heavy bass that gets the song going also sets the tone for the dark nature of its lyrics: “Set me free, set me free,” she implores, accompanied by a guitar that sounds like it’s aching to be let free. The subdued solo makes listeners feel anxious as it tries to get out of its constraints, and Nicks asks, “Is this what you wanted / to happen to me?” This newest album is in some ways a tribute to Nicks’ fans from the Fleetwood Mac era, and any music lover who has enjoyed a moment of her music career should indulge in the combination of nostalgia and new sounds that it provides.