On the Records: Only a ‘Dim Mirror Image’
By Robert Sledge
The Union Democrat — Wednesday, July 27, 1983
“THE WILD HEART,” Stevie Nicks, ★★
I know what you’re thinking. How could the mystic Gypsy go wrong?
For one, I would be a bit more cautious in calling her such a name anymore. Between “Bella Donna” and “The Wild Heart,” something happened. No longer do we find the “mystic” aura that surrounded “Bella Donna,” or the tinge of folk that was “Leather and Lace” or even the smartly-twisted vocals like those on “Edge of Seventeen.”
And the country influence on “That’s All Right” off the Fleetwood Mac album “Mirage,” that got so much critical acclaim? Not much left here.
All we get is a dim mirror image. “The Wild Heart” makes a half-hearted attempt to copy “Bella Donna,” but all it does is run in circles, not helped at all by the dead and chord progression.
“If Anyone Falls” is a prime example of where Nicks has gone. Roy Bitton serves up puffy synthesizer in sizable slices. But once that’s scraped away, we’re left with void. But this is the best songwriting effort on the record, and the background vocals (Sharon Celani and Lori Perry) are the most atmospheric of the record as well. To crown it all, Waddy Watchel checks in with a nice and gritty guitar riff. But yet for its ambition, “If Anyone Falls” still falls short of what it could have been.
“Enchanted” is a keenly spunky number, with vaguely honky-tonkish piano ringing ahead of Russ Kinkel’s relatively confident drumming. The spirit that the band gives is unequaled on the rest of “The Wild Heart,” and it’s what makes “Enchanted” worthwhile.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are also back, apparently to perpetuate a tradition. “I Will Run to You,” rather grim resolved, is simply not meant to be cheery, and features Tom Petty with his best singing since “Damn the Torpedoes.” Petty’s last ballad was the blatantly terrible “A Wasted Life” off the “Long After Dark” album, and before that was the ballad-saturated “Hard Promises,” which wound up a little self-conscious, Petty taking refuge in songs such as “Kings Road” and “The Waiting.”
But “I Will Run to You” drops all self consciousness; it’s Stevie Nicks who actually seems out of place, apparently still thinking about her flaming duet with Petty, “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” At any rate, it’s the most cohesive song on the record; indeed, the best.
So these three remain: “If Anyone Falls,” “Enchanted” and “I Will Run to You.”
But there’s one big plus in all this inconsistency: her singing. Clearly her best ever, with high fervor running through her voice every time. She’s come a long way from her tiny vocal on “Dreams.”
So shame on her producer for letting her “fall.”