Review : Lisa Marie Presley - Storm & Grace
Slant MagazineThe songs Presley has written for the album are emotionally raw and unaffected, which make them well matched to the melancholy timbre of her voice. She doesn't have a great singing voice in a technical sense, and she has a tendency to drawl through vowels in a way that can make her unintelligible. But she also has a sense of presence when she sings, and she can sell songs that are moody and sullen. To that end, Storm & Grace plays to her strengths; however thin her alto may be, Presley's performances on the lilting "Soften the Blows" and the somber title track are confident and lived-in.
Burnett, for his part, knows how to highlight the things Presley does well. As a producer, he's at his best when he creates a consistent tone, and the bleak POV of Presley's songs allows him to do just that. He builds momentum on "So Long" with a gradual crescendo in the bassline, while the subtle mixing of a crying steel-guitar line on "Close to the Edge" reflects the song's underlying sadness. ...full text
The WrapPresley 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....full text
Blog CriticsLisa 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. Then announcements for her forthcoming Storm & Grace suggested her 2012 return would be a major departure for Presley. As it turns out, these claims are largely true. Her third album is not as hard-charging as her previous releases, and it is far more “organic,” to use Presley’s own description.
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.
Seattle PiPresley'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.
The principal players include guitarists Burnett, Jackson Smith, Michael Lockwood, Blake Mills, drummer Jay Bellerose, bassist Dennis Crouch, and keyboard player Keefus Green. Presley also sought out various songwriting collaborators who provide their own dimensions to the tracks they contributed to. For example, Ed Harcourt helped write, and sang back-up vocals for the opener, "Over Me." It's ominous verses and poppy chorus sketch a story about a woman reflecting about being replaced by someone else, a recurring image throughout the album. Presley, Harcourt, and James Hogarth shaped "Soften the Blows" in which the singer becomes a down-and-dirty chanteuse supported by a throbbing stand-up bass. It's a song asking whomever is in charge to please do what the title asks for when the road gets rough. The same trio co-wrote a song about suffering through a day with a "Storm Of Nails," one of the albums most affirming numbers, despite lyrics about needing a hammer when the hard rain comes down....full text
Rolling Stone"I"m a bit transgressive and suppressive as well," sings Lisa Marie Presley on "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet," shouting out an identity crisis her third LP fully owns. The daughter of Elvis and ex-wife of Michael never jelled as a pop-rock diva (see her 2005 duet with Pink, "Shine"). Here, producer T Bone Burnett switches on his semiacoustic roots-rock way-back machine, which highlights her appealingly husky voice on the hip-swiveling "Over Me" and the Latin- scented "Weary," but generates few sparks. Splitting the difference between hooky modern tunecraft and old-school hush, "Un-Break" is a high point, a track fans of Pink and her papa might all get behind.
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