On the cover of In Your Dreams, Stevie Nicks presents herself as many fans likely envision her in their fantasies: dressed in a witchy black dress, standing next to a dreamy white steed, and bathed in a sunny glow from deep inside a magical-looking forest. But contrary to her mystical image and the title of one of her most famous songs, Nicks at her best traffics in hard-won wisdom and scrappy resilience, not dreams. That makes the moony childishness of In Your Dreams even more unbecoming for a 62-year-old survivor who’s presumably done a lot more living and learning since 2001’s Trouble In Shangri-La than this silly album suggests.
Nicks once wrote unflinchingly about the pains and pleasures of romantic relationships; on Dreams, she offers the plainly awful “Cheaper Than Free,” a lumbering country-tinged love song containing unintentional laughers like “more exciting than high fashion / high passion” and “What’s deeper than a deep well? / The love into which I fell.” On “New Orleans,” Nicks sounds as clueless about the outside world as she does about matters of the heart, becoming increasingly unmoored from a real-world depiction of the city as she sings about the merits of Bourbon Street, the French Quarter, beads, feathers and lace, and brushing up against author Anne Rice. Tellingly, Nicks is more engaged in the pretend-time fantasylands of “Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream)”—inspired, yes, by the Stephenie Meyer books—and “Wide Sargasso Sea,” which is more of a book report on the Jean Rhys novel than a cogent musical interpretation.
For all the juvenilia of the songwriting, the production on In Your Dreams is an oldster’s abomination, lacquering dated MOR bombast over intermittently inspired melodies that wilt on impact. “Secret Love,” a leftover from the Rumours days, might have shined brighter in more naturalistic environs; as it is, like the rest of Dreams, it’s a disappointment coming from a woman who seemed a lot more grown-up back in her late 20s.