LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Lisa Marie Presley, the ‘Princess’ of Rock and Roll, is done fighting the legacy of her father Elvis.
She is embracing her Americana roots, finding her own voice, and carving a niche for herself in the musical spotlight with new album “Storm and Grace,” out this week.
Presley, 44, the only child of The King and wife Priscilla, has come a long way since her first album, 2003’s “To Whom It May Concern,” and 2005 follow up, “Now What,” admitting that she felt more vulnerable and rebellious with her earlier music.
“I made some pretty angry and defensive (songs) probably anticipating what was expected of me and fighting against it ... there was a lot of production and hiding behind things, not really wanting to lay myself out there because I was afraid or feeling too vulnerable,” she told Reuters.
“Once I got that out of my system ... I just quieted and calmed down ... In this process of writing this record, I found a better bed for myself and my voice and my writing to lie in.”
Her previous albums were marketed for Top 40 chart success, a genre in which Presley said she never belonged. In an off-the-cuff remark she called “Storm And Grace” her anti-pop record.
While Presley remains vague about the inspirations for the songs on her new record, the lyrics give her thoughts a voice.
In “So Long,” Presley sings “farewell fair weathered friends” in a place where “Churches, they don’t have a soul.” In “Un-Break,” the chanteuse’s sultry voice harks to her turbulent personal life in lyrics such as “I’ve got run over by my own parade, I’ve suffocated in the beds I’ve made.”
In “Sticks And Stones” the singer directly addresses her legacy and destiny, singing “too bad she ain’t just like her Daddy ... she got no talent of her own, it’s just her name.”
It is difficult to ignore the looming presence of Presley’s father in the room, fueled by her striking resemblance to the rock ‘n’ roll legend, although she never once directly referred to him by name in discussing his legacy.
“He really did make such an incredible change in the world and contributed so much that it makes me very happy and proud when he’s acknowledged and recognized,” said Presley.
Her musical influences range widely, she said, avoiding mentioning her dad and offering a strong affinity for 1970s singer-songwriters Dan Fogelberg, Gordon Lightfoot and Neil Young, musicians who forged their careers following Elvis’ success.
Presley, who grew up between her father’s estate, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee and Beverly Hills, California, found her voice away from American soil in the green suburban county of Sussex in England.
“Storm and Grace,” which harks to Presley’s country rock roots, came to life at the hands of British producers and Grammy-winning country musician T-Bone Burnett in London.
“The Brits tend to acknowledge and respect culture and tradition. (They love) what’s amazing about Americana music, so they naturally respected and admired it, and it was such a natural progression,” said Presley.
Reviews have been mostly favorable. National Public Radio’s Meredith Ochs praised Presley for settling into a “comfortable groove as an artist,” while TheWrap.com’s Chris Willman called the album “a superior, Americana-styled effort that leaves her earlier, slicker, ill-considered musical efforts in the dust.”
Will Hermes at Rolling Stone was less impressed, saying Presley “never jelled as a pop-rock diva” and the CD “generates few sparks,” giving it two and half stars out of five.
Over the years, Presley’s personal life has captured headlines with whirlwind marriages to ‘King of Pop’ Michael Jackson in 1994 (divorcing in 1996) and actor Nicolas Cage, from whom she separated after 108 days of marriage in 2002.
These days, she is happily married for the fourth time to musician Michael Lockwood, and the couple have 3-year-old twin daughters, Harper and Finley. She also has two children from her first marriage to musician Danny Keough, a daughter named Riley and a son, Benjamin.
Riley, 22, a model and actress, is making her own foray into the limelight with a role in upcoming film “Magic Mike.”
“I know how hardcore the entertainment business can be on anyone, so of course I worry, it can stain your soul ... I don’t want to see her get broken or get worn down by things that she doesn’t need to be worrying about,” said the singer.
For Presley, “Storm And Grace” spells a new chapter in her own life in which she has battled demons and accepted her legacy, embracing a mellow lifestyle in her new home in England.
“I’ve had so many lifetimes in one life, I’ve seen so much and done so much ... of course I have regrets, I’d love to say I didn’t, but mostly I think that everything unfolds and has a meaning,” said the singer.
“No matter how many times something seems overwhelming and bad, there’s always something incredible that comes afterward.”
Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte