Lisa Marie Presley - Storm and Grace – Album Review
Universal Republic/XIX Recordings
By Elena Maystruk
A smooth musician with a famous past, a child of an icon and a media phenomenon - these descriptions are common, yet entirely insufficient in describing Lisa Marie Presley and her influence on media and music. Two albums in and a significantly long gap preceding the next, the sultry singer has a surprise in store.
Nearly a decade since her last album, Now What (2005), Presley releases Storm and Grace. Slowing down the beats and deepening her voice to create a feeling of electrically charged warm air, Presley’s musical rendition of the light and dark from her past is slow, steady, and deep.
Producing Storm and Grace is 12-time GRAMMY® winner T Bone Burnet (Raising Sand, Crazy Heart). Though the quality of work reflects his skill as a musical icon, the core sound is a sign that Burnet let his star do all the talking. The album carries across only Presley and her poetry.
Fans of Presley’s work might be surprised to note some interesting changes in the musician’s usual raspy, country-rock sound. Where her previous music is fast paced and infused with a signature raspy purr, these songs are slower, tragic and filled with a palpable deja vu of times past.
The anticipation to hear something new from Presley after all of these years, is not the only special thing about Storm and Grace. When an album is so personal to an artist’s past, it has an uncanny ability to bend the music into a portal through which memories and feelings can flow. Flow: it is a fitting word to describe this work, as is the title Storm and Grace. The music is heavy, warm, palpable, yet soft and confident.
Beautifully unhurried, Presley’s songs sound like old souls; carrying moods akin to classic blues ballads and old country heartbreak songs. She integrates her southern roots, infusing sultry country blues with the deep-intensity of classic rock ballads. “Close to the Edge” is perhaps the best example of the changes Presley had made to her sound. Listening to this song and many others on the album presents Presley as she has never exposed herself before. If nothing else, this project is different. Her voice is velvety and sad; a major contrast (maybe a disappointing one for some fans) to her past rakish, bad-girl charm. It’s as though she put away the signature growl in her voice to say: “No, it’s too personal for that”.
Presley should be commended for presenting the private aspects of her life in such a mature and dignified way. After years of media speculation about the details of her personal life: the photos, the gossip and the spotlights, Presley’s title for the album “Storm and Grace” is a perfect metaphor for how she has carried herself. She will appear on Good Morning America on May 15, coinciding with the release of the album that same day. With appearances on American Idol (May 17), The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (May 21), and Jimmy Kimmel Live (May 22), Presley’s long-awaited album release promises a busy May schedule.