07 November 2014
by Stephen Moore
Stevie Nicks – 24 Karat Gold
Old, half-finished songs picked up, dusted down and fully realised by Nicks in all her croaky, wizened glory.
With her first LP since 2011’s In Your Dreams, Nicks has decided to revisit some old demos to give them the full studio work-up.
Comprising songs almost exclusively written between 1969 and 1987, what could have been a rushed cash-in is instead a crafted, worthwhile document.
Raking over her earlier songwriting chops proves a canny move, and there’s plenty here that will appeal.
Her now gently burnished vocals lend appropriate weight to the weary, wistful casino worker in The Dealer, in which downcast guitar and piano back lines like “If I’d have known a little more I’d have run away,” while she croakily dispenses some hard-won wisdom from a scarred heart over gritty guitar in Hard Advice.
Although it outstays its welcome at 15 tracks, the range is wide enough to take in freaky Hammond organ solos on Starshine – the album’s galloping, bittersweet opener – intimate, stream-of-consciousness frustration and exasperation in Mabel Normand and a hard, funky guitar riff that Rage Against The Machine wouldn’t sniff at (the six-minute barnstormer I Don’t Care).
Her intimate delivery frequently disarms, be it alongside Mac-style vocal harmonies in Carousel, recorded for Nicks’ mother, or the soul-baring uncertainty of Lady, a simple acoustic ballad with plodding piano.
A slinky, upbeat Mississippi bar feel excites in Cathouse Blues and there’s an elegant drive to the title track.
In spite of its length, these reshaped, refined offcuts only serve to bolster Nicks’ impressive catalogue.