An album that few speak of, the ever-mystical "The Other Side Of The Mirror" is, in my opinion, one of the best solo releases by the bohemian powerhouse of Fleetwood Mac fame.
It's Stevie Nicks in her most vulnerable, raw and utterly visceral form. Even under influences of addiction and other personal demons, her personality and emotions shine through. Ironically, in this particular release is where Nicks gets utterly shameless and fiery. It's perfect because of the imperfection resulting from her struggles during this period of her career. It's honest, brutal and timeless, really.
Opener "Rooms On Fire" lunges into a crackling chorus with harmonies that have rarely met their match to this day. Lyrics that deal with Nicks' struggles with love and relationships ignite the track, injecting energy. In fact, that is where this album really shines and escapes the suffocation of Nicks' personal distress; she's screaming out for guidance through the lyrics, track by track. It couldn't get any more reflective (perhaps hinted at in the lyrics "turn to the crystal blue mirror" on the swanky number "Juliet").
Other favourites include the imposing "Long Way To Go". The fiery, ever-introspective lyrics such as "it's a real long way to go, say goodbye, I thought we already did that, have fun tell the world" nearly suffocate the edgy riffs that pepper along ferociously. Despite a weak title, "Ooh My Love" is one of the best "half-ballads" on the album. Behaving very much like "Talk To Me" from Nicks' previous release, "Ooh My Love" boasts rapturous hooks, heavy drums, lyrics detailing a fall from grace of sorts and, of course, Nicks' vocals lovingly harmonized with backing vocalists Lori Nicks and Sharon Celani (her secret weapons).
"Ghosts" should have been one of Nicks' greatest hits. It possesses (no pun intended) all of the hallmarks of an iconic Eighties arena rock hit, checking the same boxes as Heart's "Alone" and similar hit songs of the period. Synthesizers not out of place in a nostalgic session with a favourite Nintendo game of one's youth, a soaring chorus that pulls at the heartstrings, and a production value that brought an electric energy are all present on the thumping track. Another track that could have been equally successful is "Cry Wolf", which features one of Nicks' best and most explosive choruses since "How Still My Love".
The one track that perfectly captures Stevie Nicks as a human being following her own personal journey, complete with ups and downs, is the utterly magnificent "Doing The Best That I Can (Escape From Berlin)". It screams survival. It screams power. It screams in the form of Nicks, naked with all of her imperfections, serving as the ironically perfect essence of raw determination and personal struggle. It yearns to express that nobody understands her journey except for herself. It's true. We have no idea what she went through as a human being away from the spotlight. That's why this song is so very important, and an essential listen. It is a triumph in execution, particularly on Nicks' part obviously. Every lyric is a home run, a shameless straightening of one's back under distress. This one song not only serves as the defining moment on "The Other Side Of The Mirror", but one of the greatest and most personal defining moments of Nicks' entire career. Coupled with a synthesized atmosphere on the studio version that surely inspired the makers of the Bond film "Goldeneye", you owe it to yourself to give this a listen.
The atmosphere of "The Other Side Of The Mirror" is full of dread, uncertainty, introspection and a firm reluctancy to give up. All of these things, mingled into one cohesive record, can feel overwhelming or even confusing to some. In fact, I doubt that many people truly appreciate this record for what it is. Perhaps some will consider it in a different light, in time. As they say, artists aren't truly appreciated until after they've passed on. Same as how people posthumously elevated their worship and appreciation of David Bowie and Prince for not just their music, but who they were as human beings, Stevie Nicks will likely receive the same treatment. Still, the Queen of Rock has many years ahead. Listening to her raw, personal struggles through this record is a form of respecting her as a person; also consider that respect is a thing that has become less and less practiced in this plastic age - a lost art, if you will. There are no excuses or agendas that justify it. Besides that, this is simply an edgy, exciting record (bar a few tracks such as "Two Kinds Of Love" and "Juliet" that can be a little grating) that deserves a good, enthused listen.
She was doing the best that she could. She tried hard to change. And she did. We had no business to know what she was going through at the time, and we still don't. But one can still hear her pain, her struggle and determination to survive. I may write this as a die-hard Stevie fan (not exaggerating - take a look at my logo and you'll notice it mimics the colour scheme of this album's cover, and is designed to be a reversed, minimalistic form of Stevie's stance on the cover itself), but also as somebody who sympathizes and refuses to judge her journey; a journey that we have no business to judge or snoop into. That's the beauty of this woman, and this record; the preservation of struggle for others to learn from or be inspired by without the need of opening the doors to a private past. This is why Stevie Nicks is so loved and relatable to our own struggles, as well as why her solo career has been so successful; she isn't afraid to be herself. Music has to be personal to make an impression, after all.
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