Stevie Nicks released her second solo album close to two years after her first. The Wild Heart may not have had the consistent highs of Bella Donna, but when it was good, it was very good.
She was riding a wave of personal popularity during 1983. Her 1981 Bella Donna solo debut and Fleetwood Mac’s 1982 Mirage album both reached number one on the American album charts and sold millions of copies. The group’s concerts and her solo appearances continued to sell out before huge audiences. It was against this background that she went into the studio to record her second solo album.
The album has a list of guest musicians that seem to go on ad infinitum. Tom Petty, Mike Campbell, Mick Fleetwood, Steve Lukather, Wendy Wachtel, Don Felder, Roy Bittan, David Foster, and dozens of others make appearances. Even his purple highness, Prince, makes an uncredited stop.
She continues in the rock vein of Bella Donna. The sound is updated to what was popular at the time, as synthesizers and percussion move to the forefront to share space with the guitars. The main problem was that the lyrics tended to be fairly obscure on a number of the songs.
As with her previous album, it was the top forty hit singles that formed the foundation of her music and are the most accessible tracks. “Stand Back” is one of the better creations of her career. It is a rocker with catchy hooks and the vocal is powerful as well.
“Nightbird” was a dark tribute ballad for her old friend Robyn Anderson, who had passed away. “If Anyone Falls” may be a little dated today as the synthesizers are front and center. On the other hand, it was part of the best of the eighties sound as it was very danceable and the harmonies were perfect.
There are a number of other tracks that are still worth exploring, including the title song, which is another in your face rocker. “Enchanted” can best be described as country/rock, as her vocal combines with Bruce Springsteen & The E Street band member Roy Bittan’s piano with good effect. Another highlight is “Nothing Ever Changes,” which is an angry and powerful rocker.
The unusual track is “Beauty and The Beast,” which comes complete with a 23-person string section. She also recorded the song live. While I prefer her rock material, this was a good attempt at trying something different.
The Wild Heart was an upbeat outing for Stevie Nicks. While it may not have been as good as her solo debut, it was still an excellent release. It proved that she was a formidable solo artist in her own right.