Storm & Grace CD Review | Lisa Marie Presley | Rock's Princess Finds Her Voice
Source: The Wrap | Elvis Australia
October 18, 2013
A true delight and one of the truly great albums!!! Elvis Australia.
12 months after its release, far away from any initial euphoria, 'Storm & Grace' still stands up well in the play count in my CD player - it clearly stands as one of the truly great albums.
With Storm & Grace, Lisa Marie Presley has created an extraordinary album!!! ... rich country, folk, and blues that showcase her fine, deep voice while firmly staging her music somewhere between country and pop ... an album that in one swoop restores contemporary significance to the Presley brand ... A true delight and one of the truly great albums!!! ... 'Storm & Grace' is replete with songs capable of becoming standards ... if she can follow this album up with equal quality she will establish herself as major recording artist. Elvis Australia.
Having a celebrity parent, history suggests, can be a terrible burden to bear - not least since nowadays, the popstar offspring that eschews showbiz in favour of a 'proper' job is a rarity. And as celebs go, they don't come much bigger than Elvis, not so much a star as a figure of mythic proportions, his earthly domain preserved in all its glory like an outsize reliquary of postwar American aspiration.
Until recently, Lisa Marie Presley had shown all the signs of being just another victim of pop's dynastic tendencies, an ersatz talent cast into an unforgiving spotlight. There were those two earlier albums, oddly devoid of ambition and charisma. Now with Storm & Grace, I would never have guessed this is her work. The sound is so bluesy with a twist of country. Some of the lyrics are low almost whispery, that adds an interesting bass quality. Storm and Grace has a haunting tune that gets into your brain and begs to be listened to again.
It's been seven years since her last album, and now rooted within a firmly supportive long-term relationship, and relocated to the relative normality of England, Lisa Marie appears to be coping better than most with the unbidden yoke of celebrity. She's certainly creating music of far greater potency than most second-generation trustafarian popsters, thanks in part to the keen instincts of T-Bone Burnett and in even greater part to English songwriters such as Ed Harcourt and Richard Hawley, whose astute grasp of classic pop and country modes ensures that Storm & Grace is replete with songs capable of becoming standards.
The Presley/Harcourt opener 'Over Me' is taken at a languid rockabilly canter, familiar from Burnett's work on Raising Sand, and driven by the same peerless rhythm section of drummer Jay Bellerose and bassist Dennis Crouch, who elsewhere bring a breathtaking subtlety of touch and emphasis to Presley/Hawley ballads like the slow country waltz 'Storm & Grace' and 'Weary'.
Throughout, Burnett's production frames Presley's nonchalant, smoky delivery in classic neo-roots livery, through his typical accumulation of small but telling guitar figures allied to flexible and infectious grooves. The result is an album that in one swoop restores contemporary significance to the Presley brand.
Highlights : Over Me; You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet; Un-Break; Weary.
By Andy Gill : The Independent
'... this might be the best thing any Presley has done since Suspicious Minds' ... Now that is one hell of a statement, and Elvis fans will beg to differ, but taken in context it is a fair summation of what is truly a magnificent album, and one that declares Lisa Marie Presley as a major recording star in her own right.
Working with an all-cult-star team of collaborators Lisa Marie Presley has come back with a superior, Americana-styled effort that leaves her earlier, slicker, ill-considered musical efforts in the dust.
'Storm And Grace' officially entered the Billboard Chart at No.45 for the weekend of 2nd June, 2012.
Lisa Marie's first album, 'To Whom It May Concern' sold 140,000 copies during its first week of release in April. It was also one of the year's highest debuts with its #5 position on the Billboard charts.
Buy Storm And Grace Special Edition CD [4 Bonus Tracks]
CD Review : The Best Thing Any Presley Has Done Since ‘Suspicious Minds'
Some thoughts on Lisa Marie Presley:
'Too bad she ain't just like her daddy/Oh what a shame/She got no talent of her own/It's just her name'.
No, that's not our review.
That's Lisa Marie Presley anticipating (or reviving) some of the conventional/cynical wisdom about her musical career in 'Sticks and Stones', a bonus track on the deluxe version of her new album, 'Storm & Grace'. She even refers to her own possibly hereditary pout: 'She looks bad, she looks mad … Why's she so angry and mean?'
Why ask why? Although the 'angry' part kind of holds true on her frequently embittered third album, the rest of the expected criticisms are rendered irrelevant by how much she's grown into her role as a singer/songwriter.
Working with an all-cult-star team of collaborators -- T Bone Burnett as producer, and Ed Harcourt and Pulp's Richard Hawley as co-writers -- Presley has come back with a superior, Americana-styled effort that leaves her earlier, slicker, ill-considered musical efforts in the dust.
The test : Would you want to listen to it if her name were Lisa Marie Schwarzenegger? Happily, 'Storm & Grace' would be a rose under any other singer's name. Even though I'm still kind of partial to 'The Naked Gun', this might be the best thing any Presley has done since 'Suspicious Minds'.
If you were going to take a stab at which musician's style 'Storm & Grace' most sounds like, it wouldn't be her dad's so much as a guy who took a lot of cues from her father but put his own exceptionally dark and moody spin on that sound, Chris Isaak. Of course, producer Burnett has his own take on those lonesome tremelo guitar sounds of the distant past, and anyone who enjoyed his rootsiest early solo work -- or, say, the celebrated album he produced for Robert Plant and Alison Krauss -- is due to find huge enjoyment in the deliciously mysterious sound beds he's created for Presley.
Low-key is the order of the day. Presley had a minor pop hit with her debut in 2003, but in her semi-retirement since 2005, she seems to have given up any thoughts of going for a brass ring. Her voice, which sounded stretched thin on those two earlier albums, is no longer a concern now that she's found cohorts who know just what kind of musical pocket works for her unexceptional but alluring enough chops.
And while it may be tempting even for some admirers of the album to say its artistic success is all Burnett's work, the songs themselves (which he didn't have a hand in) are strong enough that you can believe him when he swears Presley's demos were impressive. Suffice it to say that the highlights here would be the highlights on a Ryan Adams or Son Volt record. The opening 'Over Me' picks up one of the album's better heads of steam -- which is to say, it's a medium-tempo country-rocker -- as Presley sings mixed messages about how she feels about the new girl in a former lover's life. 'She's cool in a gap-toothed hippie chick way', Presley sings, nonchalantly, of her successor. 'She took my place, saved the day'. Is she upset or relieved at having been replaced? It's not quite clear, though it's probably both, which is part of what makes the song such a delight.
But Presley does get more clearly pissed in the following track. 'You can think that I'm evil and I'm off the rails/You ain't seen nothing yet', she threatens in the following tune. And though she's seemingly been happily married since 2006 (her husband, Michael Lockwood, is one of many guitar players on the album), she's certainly feeding off some beefs, past or present, with something or somebody.
It's a depressive enough album that Presley frequently seems friendless, questions her own bad karma, and/or has some questions for the Almighty. 'On my forehead, does it say/Unleash all hounds of hell this way?' 'Farewell, fair-weather friends/I can't say I'll miss you in the end'. 'Somewhere along the line I must have been a backstabbing liar/Maybe in another life I was a snake or vampire…/S---, it keeps on coming/Maybe should change my plumbing.' 'Whoever is running the show/There's one thing I need to know/Could you soften the blow'. The last couple of tracks strike a more hopeful tone (see 'Forgiving'), but 'Storm & Grace' has decidedly more storm than grace, which makes it a pretty good late-night album in the lonesome tradition of, say, Sinatra's 'Only the Lonely', or just about anything Jay Farrar ever wrote. The subjects of the songs may inspire speculation. If I were a betting man, I'd guess that 'I Was Wrong' is a sort of eulogy for ex-husband Michael Jackson, given its tender, rueful sentiments about two people who couldn't quite bring themselves to believe that their partners loved them. It's just a hunch, of course, and she'll never tell.
As for 'Sticks & Stones', the self-referencing track mentioned in the opening to this review? It's the weakest track on the collection, being a bit too on-the-nose in describing What It's Like To Be A Presley. It's also fascinating, of course, which is why it makes a perfect bonus track, even as Lisa Marie was smart enough to leave it off the standard edition in favor of more poetic and universal laments.
Neither Elvis nor T Bone raised any dummies.
Storm and Grace : Lisa Marie Presley.
Buy Storm And Grace Special Edition CD [4 Bonus Tracks]
Best Album Since ... In Perspective
By David Adams : Elvis Australia
While Lisa's first two albums were good, they only had a few standout tracks, whereas 'Storm & Grace' opens magnificently with 'Over Me' and doesn't stop flowing beautifully through all 15 songs. So, if you didn't quite get Lisa Marie's earlier albums, give Storm & Grace a spin. And if you did, you will find this one even better.
This album reminds me of Johnny Cash's musical reincarnation at Rick Rubin's American Label, it is that far advanced over it's two predecessors and certainly in the sense of modern music, it is the best thing any Presley has done since Suspicious Minds. Now that is one hell of a statement, and Elvis fans will beg to differ, but taken in context it is a fair summation of what is truly a magnificent album, and one that declares Lisa Marie Presley as a major recording star in her own right. And well deserved!!!
So Storm & Grace ... is one worth repeated listening
Lisa Marie Presley was 35 when her first album was released, 2003's 'To Whom It May Concern'. Her debut's success was followed two years later with 'Now What'. Again, Presley impressed critics and music buyers alike for her mature and earthy material. However, Presley let it be known she felt she was being pulled in directions she didn't want to go. She needed time and inspiration to restart her creative juices.
But Storm & Grace isn't just a stripped-down 'roots' album, with players simply laying down good grooves behind a singer. Thanks immeasurably to producer T Bone Burnett, the musical settings maintain a unified moody tone throughout the 11 songs. The set is full of subdued echo, haunting guitar lines, and the ambiance of a live session trying to capture both the cerebral and emotional elements in each song.
Presley's lyrics balance both the dark and the hopeful, her painful trials and hard-won triumphs, a few hellos and many goodbyes. In other words, storm and grace.
So Storm & Grace isn't a disc to pep up your party, but it is one worth repeated listening. If it's surprising, that's probably due to comparisons with her two previous releases and the fact that the attempt here was far more artistic than commercial. Lisa Marie has her own blues to sing and she delivers them with style and grace.
This is one Presley very much in the building.
Lisa Marie Presley: Rock's Princess Finds Her Voice
With help from producer T-Bone Burnett, Lisa Marie Presley has finally settled into a comfortable groove as an artist. Gone are the oversized production values and the elevated vocal style of her prior work in favor of a more natural approach. Burnett specializes in creating atmospheric Americana; moody soundscapes driven by big, resonant bass lines. It's a unique sonic stamp, and part of his skill as a producer lies in finding projects that wear it well. It's the kind of backdrop for which Presley's voice cries out.
The album is a beacon call for Presley
Storm and Grace, a rich country, folk, and blues album that showcases her fine, deep voice while firmly staging her music somewhere between country and pop. She performed her moody, smoky single, 'You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet' on Good Morning America on May 15, and will perform later this month on 'American Idol', 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno', and 'Jimmy Kimmel Live'. In her title track, Storm and Grace, an oom-pa-pa beat backs Presley as she croons, 'You are the most beautiful man that I've ever known'. The song reaches right to the heart. The album is a beacon call for Presley, challenging music critics and fans alike to revisit what they think they know about the first daughter of American rock and roll.
This stripped-down musical foray suits Presley much better than her previous releases. At the same time, it speaks to the current climate of the nation, hewing closely to a bare-bones, no-frills Americana vibe.
Beautifully unhurried ...
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 & Grace is a perfect metaphor for how she has carried herself.
If Storm and Grace doesn't do that for her, I honestly don't know what will ...
Rather, the challenge has always been to rise above those secondary claims to fame [Being a Presley] and be seen simply as the artist she is, accepted on her own merits rather than being compared to her father's legacy. To be taken seriously for her art. If Storm and Grace doesn't do that for her, I honestly don't know what will.
Storm & Grace is an effortless, natural-sounding collaboration
Collaborating with producer T Bone Burnett as a bid for authenticity or credibility has become perhaps the most tiresome cliché of the Americana scene over the past decade. Burnett's distinctive aesthetic simply isn't a good fit for every artist, and the one-size-fits-all approach that artists from Natalie Merchant and John Mellencamp to Jakob Dylan and Cassandra Wilson have taken to his work has resulted in as many middling, ill-conceived projects as it has great albums. So when Lisa Marie Presley enlisted Burnett to produce her third album, Storm & Grace, it initially seemed like yet another performer's stab at being taken more 'seriously'.
But it turns out that Presley and Burnett's particular talents complement each other well ...
... Storm & Grace is an effortless, natural-sounding collaboration.
I begrudgingly gave it a chance
When my boss asked if I was going to review the new Lisa Marie Presley album, my quick and emphatic response was a head nod indicating 'no'. Although I never planned on listening to the latest from the daughter of the King of Rock 'n' Roll, my curiosity got the best of me and I begrudgingly gave it a chance.
First, the somber aura found on Storm & Grace totally took me by surprise. Second, it is still in my CD player receiving repeated plays every trip to and from work. That's really all you need to know.
Deluxe Edition (bonus tracks marked with *)
- Over Me
- You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet
- Soften The Blows
- So Long
- Close To The Edge
- Storm Of Nails
- How Do You Fly This Plane?
- Storm And Grace
- Sticks and Stones *
- I Was Wrong*
- Just A Dream*
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Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever. + Plus Bonus DVD Audio.
This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.
The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.
Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Video with Sound.