24 Karat Gold – Songs From the Vault is Stevie Nicks’ latest album, and it is exactly what the title suggests. This album is a compilation of Nicks’ unreleased songs dating back as far as 1969, and includes a special edition book of her vintage “selfies,” that have been displayed in the Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York City. On October 7, 2014, she released her eighth solo studio album, and it’s a treasure chest of gems with the dust blown off of them.
When Nicks realized she had all of the songs it would take to make an album, but virtually no time before the start of her reunion tour with Fleetwood Mac, she turned to her long-time producer, Dave Stewart, for guidance. With a timeframe of merely eight weeks to record, mix, and master the album, Stewart suggested they record the project in Nashville, Tennessee. Nicks compared the Nashville recording process to “checking yourself into music rehab,” as Music City U.S.A. is known for their fast and efficient recording procedures.
Nicks, alongside her newly acquainted studio musicians, recorded seventeen tracks in three weeks. After a long history of recording with Fleetwood Mac, Nicks was used to many cooks in the kitchen. Suddenly, she found herself to be the only one. She noted the strangeness of having all of the musicians simply take her direction during the process of recording each song.
This album definitely encompasses the trials and tribulations of Nicks’ career. The second single that was released from the album, “Lady,” was a song she had recorded on a cassette tape, locked in a trunk that her mother had. Written in 1971, Nicks wrote the song with a purpose: to capture the fear that she and Lindsey Buckingham experienced when they first moved to L.A.
The track has a very simple melody, almost to the point of monotony. Nicks revealed in a commentary video that she wrote the song when she was first learning to play the piano that was a given to her as a gift by Fleetwood Mac’s producer at the time. The amateur playing abilities unfortunately, shine through. But how can you be mad at Stevie Nicks, whose uncanny vocals and simplistic lyrics are consistently fan favorites around the globe?
Nicks also covers a Vanessa Carlton hit from 2011, “Carousel,” with backing vocals from Vanessa herself, as well as Nicks’ niece, Jessi Nicks. Nicks has said in much commentary about the song that it was dedicated to her mother, as it became her favorite song during her final days. When going back and listening to the original version, it seems as though Vanessa covered Stevie Nicks, not the other way around. The song structure and expressive lyrics ring true to Nicks’ always-original sound, allowing the song to fit like a glove with her vocal abilities and delivery.
My personal favorite track on this album is, “She Loves Him Still.” The storyline of this song pairs beautifully with Nicks’ laid-back tone and back-to-basics motif for this album. The romance between Nicks and her Fleetwood bandmate Lindsey Buckingham has been one for the books, constantly leaving fans and the media with a never-ending stream of questions. Nicks revealed that most of the songs on this album are about Buckingham, and I think this song exemplifies that statement even further. The structure of “She Loves Him Still” seems to pull from Folk influences, and is backed by a very romantic flute orchestration, which is fitting for the subject matter. This arrangement definitely supports Nicks’ well known free spirit. The track dates back to the 1980’s, and was a demo that Nicks originally rehearsed for, Rock a Little, her third studio album.
24 Karat Gold – Songs From the Vault sold 33,000 copies within the first week of its release, and also gave Nicks her sixth Top Ten album on Billboard 200. This album is like a time capsule, housing songs that tell stories of moments in Nicks’ life that were hidden from even her closest friends and family. Each track is like a snapshot from that moment in which it was written. It takes the listener on a journey through Nicks’ life, and reveals sides of the artist that are refreshing at this point in her career. It is obvious that she has no plans on slowing down.