By Gillian G. Gaar
Lisa Marie Presley
“Storm and Grace”
Universal Republic/XIX Recordings
Apparently, the name of Lisa Marie Presley’s last album, 2005’s “Now What,” was more than just another title; you could also see it as an admission that Presley didn’t know what direction to go in next — which makes her new album, “Storm and Grace,” that much more of a pleasure. By waiting until she was absolutely sure of what she wanted to do, Presley has made her strongest album to date.
By her own admission, Presley has had a difficult time over the last few years, watching the sad decline and death of her former husband, Michael Jackson, as well as being surrounded by people who she now says did not have her best interests at heart. She relocated to England, working with musicians like Richard Hawley (from Pulp), and Fran Healy (from Travis), but the biggest turning point came when T-Bone Burnett became the album’s producer. Together, the two have come up with the kind of warm, organic sound that insinuates itself on first listen.
There’s a haunting broodiness to the album (the words “smoky” and “swamp rock” have frequently popped up in reviews) that makes it utterly beguiling. By stripping away the pop sheen of her previous albums, Presley has really been able to dig down into her heart and soul. There’s a darkness throughout the record — it couldn’t be otherwise, with songs that deal with troubled relationships and betrayal — but Presley’s is the kind of anger that’s all the more powerful for being low key. When you take the time to listen to the words, they really sting.
A terrific album from a singer who’s finally coming into her own.