Stevie Nicks: Trouble In Shangri-La

Stevie Nicks: Trouble In Shangri-La

Detractors tend to dismiss Fleetwood Mac out of envy as much as enmity, as the legendary band made more money than it did bad records. People also often overlook the fact that Fleetwood Mac existed well before Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks gave it an injection of craft and charisma, respectively. While it would be a gross generalization to place the weight of the band's subsequent success solely on their shoulders, they did give the group its legs. But when it came time for the inevitable solo excursions, Nicks fared best, producing an impressive body of work that stands alongside virtually anything her band produced. Still, those legendary rock-star excesses eventually took their toll, and Nicks was forced to reassess her life. Prompted by a Tom Petty pep talk, she started work on the new Trouble In Shangri-La back in 1995, before the most recent Fleetwood Mac reunion, but the group's well-received tour surely refreshed Nicks, who remains an honest-to-goodness rock icon. Though her newfound confidence mostly allows the disc to transcend the safe "comeback" label, her trademark witchy-poo persona is what actually makes the album so welcome. In fact, the handful of songs not written by Nicks, like the bland "Every Day," "That Made Me Stronger," or "Too Far From Texas" (a duet with Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines) are conspicuous in their middle-of-the-roadness. One exception is Sheryl Crow's "It's Only Love." As heir to the California sound, Crow tempers her presence nicely, and her backup vocals throughout the disc enhance Nicks' own voice. The brightest spots on Trouble In Shangri-La, bunched at the start, recall Nicks' earlier work in both melodic and narrative thrust. "Love Changes" is updated funk-pop (think "Stand Back"), while "Sorcerer" and "Planets Of The Universe" recall the folk roots of the hard-to-find Buckingham-Nicks album and the ghostly "Rhiannon," respectively. The title track even seems to reference Nicks' huge "Edge Of Seventeen" hit, but her distinctive croak clearly belies 20 years of additional experience. As can be expected from a star with unlimited time and resources, the disc is overproduced and runs too long. But, at its best, Trouble In Shangri-La shows that the Nicks mystique can be enough to gild even mediocre songs that are otherwise unworthy of her.

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