Album: Lisa Marie Presley, Storm & Grace (Island)
Presley gets back on track, with help from her friends
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 kitsch 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, and there was that whole business with Michael Jackson, which seemed to point towards some imminent emotional car-crash.
But 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 producer 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.
Download: Over Me; You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet; Un-Break; Weary
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