Picks and Pans Review: The Other Side of the Mirror
The title's allusion to Through the Looking-Glass is no coincidence. This album also includes a tune called "Alice," and it's not that hard to think of Nicks as the little blond from the Disney cartoon 20 years and some measure of frowsiness later.
Nicks's lyrics, too, often have a surreal quality. Line by line, they don't add up to much. Read the title of "Doing the Best I Can (Escape from Berlin)" and try to make sense of it. But Nicks knows which words can carry a serious burden, and her impressions do create vivid images: "And the angel said, 'Well you must have had a dream.../ And you remember it...' Till the dream followed through... / Till the—end of the dream...and the dream came true/ When I want something...I get it." (Nicks has a Cheshire cat sense of punctuation; all those ellipses and dashes are hers.)
She continues to sound darker and more substantial on her own than she does with Fleetwood Mac, and her nanny-goat-with-a-head-cold voice, while it's nobody's textbook instrument, conveys the passion, anger and persistent curiosity of her language. It's hard to imagine, say, Judy Collins singing most of these songs without sounding silly. Nicks makes them both poetic and musical.
Bruce Hornsby sits in (and sings in) on a couple of tracks, to the best effect on "Juliet," where his jangly piano complements Nicks's vocal. There's also a reggae-ized version of the Johnny Cash standby "I Still Miss Someone (Blue Eyes)" on which Nicks succumbs to blatant romanticism.
Most of the time the images are less sweet, as in "Rooms on Fire" or "Fire Burning," which make Nicks seem to be someone interested in neither lighting any candles nor cursing the darkness, though she might be talked into sitting down and spending some time discussing the topic "All Right, Just Exactly What Is Going on Here?" (Modern/Atlantic)