Presley showcases blues, country chops
Few musicians have had to face the pressures Lisa Marie Presley has had to endure over her career.
Being the daughter of Elvis Presley created a whole slew of unchartered challenges that left her struggling at times to find her own sound, separate from her famous father or from expectations brought on by record executives.
It took a collaboration with famed folk producer T-Bone Burnett to bring out Presley's true musical roots. The result is a 15-track blues/country record that has Presley performing alongside Burnett's backing band.
Initially, people influencing Presley's career thought she fit best in the pop world, hoping that she could produce the next hit.
"It's hard because I've tried writing for that, and it makes me crazy. I can't write to make a hit," Presley said in an interview with the Tribune from California. "I'm still in an old-school world of a singer/songwriter person.
"In the top-40 world, it's all instant gratification, instant chart, instant No. 1 and if not the first two weeks, you're dead. If you're not out the gate. There's all these expectations in that world," she said. "I was never really in that world to begin with. I've never been a top-40 artist."
Presley showcases her country chops on "Storm & Grace," resulting in a hybrid mix of blues and soul that complements Burnett's musicians.
Presley's collaboration with the famed producer won't be the last, she said.
"It was really inspiring. He allows a lot of artistic freedom," Presley said. "He's inspirational beyond belief, and his musicians are outstanding. It really made me step up my game. It was a great experience. I would want to record any future records I have with him as well, if I could."
Pairing with Burnett gave Presley a new outlook on recording music.
"I think just simply getting away and getting to completely new blood, different writers from all walks of life, I'm just allowed to be whoever I was gonna be and it just naturally came," she explained. "No one was trying to make me go (pop)."
"In the past, people were trying to push me into doing a record in Nashville or doing this and that. It was way too contrived for me," Presley added. "I'm the kind of person that when granted a lot of space and freedom, I'll somehow figure out my way and usually do the right thing. That's kind of what happened. It was a natural evolution."
Naturally, Presley found herself surrounded by people wanting to hear what Elvis' daughter sounded like behind the microphone. It took some trial and error to figure out how to get past all that and not feel so pressured to meet others' expectations.
"I didn't want to be put in a position where I'd be compared (to Elvis) although I knew I would be," she said. "I think on the first two records I did everything I could to not sound like him or do what people would expect me to do."
"Then I was kind of finding my way with it or battling it," she said. "You sort of settle into your own thing, which is what it is on this record."
Being the daughter of the most famous recording artist of all time and having had controversial marriages to Michael Jackson and Nicholas Cage, Presley has plenty of material to draw from when it comes to writing lyrics.
She sticks with the same formula most recording artists go with — daily life and common struggles we all deal with from time to time.
"My life. I'm pretty introspective," Presley said of her lyrical inspiration. "I'm usually processing demons or situations or emotions."
Presley has two grown kids but is experiencing a first in parenting as she has to balance her 4-year-old twins with her recording and touring schedule.
"I haven't really figured that out yet," she said with a laugh. "My other children were older when I did the first two records. This is a little different. I'm kind of working it out as I go. All I can do is the best I can every day and try and give them as much attention as I can."
This year marks the 35th anniversary of Elvis' death, and Lisa Marie, who was 9 when her father passed away, remembers and honors her father in everything she does.
"You miss everything about someone who's not there anymore. I can't say I miss one particular thing about (him)," Presley said of her father. "I'm just honored and proud."