The too-expensive deluxe version, which this isn’t, adds two of the most righteous songs, including one about a rendezvous with God; neither version omits the weakest cut, “Cathouse Blues,” an arched cat back before the kitten falls back asleep. She’s arch, lyrically (“I guess you could say she’s just an unapproachable comedienne”), so don’t read the lyrics until you’ve spun the disc several times.
Track after track (either configuration) she steals feeling out from under confessional. Or extrudes it through confessional. Some of the lyrics sound fatally like her diary with the names and even suggestive initials snipped — how did she end up with one of the most amazing albums of the year? Singing, phrasing. Of course, the mostly star backing band doesn’t hurt, sending guitars to boil and bubble around her waxing plaintive. Lady Antebellum (a plural, I had to look them up) join at the end of “Blue Water,” dropping dark ink into a pool of languid satisfaction.
“Hard Advice” conflates somebody she once knew, Biblically, with someone telling her to stay away from even thinking about that person. On the page, the two fold into each other; on the record, she works an emotional through-line, growing more resolved, and less pliable, by the verse/chorus. The Carpenters’ “Superstar” comes to mind except unlike that song’s protagonist, Nicks (presumably her own protagonist) is famous, too — and even more importantly, she doesn’t get stuck. She has to reject the outside world for a while. But even through all her “don’t”’s, you know she’ll be back.
- Album: 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault
- Artist: Stevie Nicks
- Label: Reprise
- Songs: (1) Starshine (2) The Dealer (3) Mabel Normand (4) Blue Water (5) Cathouse Blues (6) 24 Karat Gold (7) Hard Advice (8) Lady (9) I Don’t Care (10) All The Beautiful Worlds (11) Belle Fleur (12) If You Were My Love (13) Carousel (14) She Loves Him Still