For her first solo album in seven years, Stevie Nicks says she took a step away from the past while at the same time using her years with Fleetwood Mac as her muse.
"When you're in a great old band that still exists, you can always live on that ... you can always be that," the singer/songwriter said recently. "Or you can go ahead and do your own thing along with doing that."
Merging Nicks' mystical poetry with earthy pop songwriting, Trouble in Shangri-La uses as its premise the idea of achieving paradise only to find out that it's not all it's cracked up to be. That realization came for Nicks soon after she rose to fame with Fleetwood Mac in the '70s.
"You know, if you live in a huge house and have a fabulous car and lots of money for 20 or 30 years, pretty soon paradise becomes your world," she said. "And it's nothing special. And that's the saddest part of all. I think you must always have trouble in Shangri-La to keep yourself from becoming complacent. If you stop searching you'll get lost."
On the title track, which opens the album, Nicks sings, "I guess we don't believe/ That things could go that far/ We all believe in people/ That we think believe in God."
Trouble is packed with guest appearances, with Dixie Chick Natalie Maines appearing on "Too Far From Texas," Macy Gray on "Bombay Sapphires," Sarah McLachlan on "Love Is" and Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham on "I Miss You." Sheryl Crow sings and plays guitar on several songs, in addition to co-producing five tracks, including one, "It's Only Love," that she wrote for and about Nicks.
"She came up the stairs carrying her guitar and she just sat down and played it for me," Nicks recalled. "She told me, 'I went home, and I just was really thinking about all your stories and all the stuff you've been through.' Now that we've been friends for four years, I've just about told her all the great stories, she knows them all and that's really what she wrote the song about."
Nicks wrote most of the album's songs between 1995 and 2000 but used three she had leftover from the '70s, including the windy ballad "Candlebright," featuring Crow.
"It was one of the demos Lindsey and I moved to L.A. with, and so I have an incredible demo of just me and Lindsey," she said. "And it's exactly like what's on the record except that it's me and Sheryl. Singing with Sheryl is very much like singing with Lindsey: She's a real great duet singer, and so we had a great jumping-off point from the beginning."
Shangri-La is Nicks' first album since 1994's Street Angel. She's currently lining up dates for a summer headlining tour, with an itinerary to be announced shortly.
After she finishes promoting her album, Nicks is planning to return to the studio with Fleetwood Mac. The singer said she recently presented Buckingham and drummer Mick Fleetwood with 17 songs for possible inclusion on a new Mac album, which they hope to release by summer 2002.
"The chemistry will always be there," she said. "I think when we're all in rocking chairs it will be there, which is really nice to know. It's nice to know that something lasts."