ANTONY SMITH

2014 is the Year of the Nicks. The Grammy-nominated, platinum album-selling, chiffon shawl twirling Stevie Nicks, that is.

The Fleetwood Mac vocalist and successful solo singer is back again like a perpetual phoenix, following her powerhouse cameo performance in which she played a white witch version of herself in American Horror Story: Coven. Notably for reprising the incandescent Seven Wonders in the opening of the season finale, fitting seamlessly into the show's spell-binding storyline. Stevie has since become fellow mentor along with Maroon 5's Adam Levine in the seventh season of The Voice. And now, her brand new studio album 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault. Although, an album that features ‘gold’ in the title which comes from a classic artist generally suggests the CD is going to include a plethora of recognisable 'best of' tracks. But not this one. Instead, fans can enjoy 14 new songs written way back between 1969 and 1987, almost 20 years in the making, which explains the retrospective quality of the album and the sepia effect of her younger self portrait on the cover.

The album begins with the irresistibly upbeat Starshine, reminiscent of the fast-paced The Ghosts Are Gone and its rock guitar riffs from the In Your Dreams album. Belle Fleur also stood out and reminded me of the mystical cadence of Sorcerer, which was also originally conceived decades before it appeared on the 2001 album Trouble in Shangri-La. On a second and third listen with earphones planted firmly in my ears 24 Karat Gold, I Don't Care, Carousel became the favourites on repeat for their blend of jaunty soft rock and soothing country style. And Lady is particularly captivating, which is also the first piano composition ever written by Stevie Nicks who learned to play the piano in 1971 especially for the creation of the song.

Sadly, the album did not set my rooms on fire. In an interview on NBC's Today show, Stevie admitted these songs were delayed in being released due to the mid-tempo ballads not fitting in her previous albums which is noticeable. I found it to be a mellow selection of chill-out tunes that immortalise Stevie's timelessly haunting and esoteric tonality. I think it could do with a range of up-tempo tracks to compliment her robustly resonate, and at times, raspy voice. In turn, this would change the album from a background playlist into a tenacious showcase of her talent as ‘The Reigning Queen of Rock and Roll’ that Rolling Stone hail her to be. Overall, 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault is easy listening and it seems like Stevie was playing it a bit too safe by omitting any alternative instrumental accompaniments to enhance her songs to a signature status, like in The Edge of Seventeen.

Stevie Nicks will next be seen opposite her fellow Fleetwood Mac band members, after recently announcing they will be extending their US tour to the UK with their On With The Show reunion from 27th May 2015.

For any news and updates on Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac, check out the www.fleetwoodmacnews.com site.