ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT > CURTAIN CALL

Lisa Marie-Presley Takes ‘Grace’ to Taj


By David J. Spatz
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Nov. 7, 2012

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When Lisa Marie Presley began writing music again after a seven-year layoff, she wasn’t sure where it would lead.


“There was no agenda,” Elvis Presley’s only child said. “I was given the freedom and space to find myself again, to start again and get a fresh perspective. I didn’t know what was going to come of it. I was half expecting nothing was going to happen.”


Her manager, Simon Fuller, was a little more focused. He was hoping the 44-year-old singer, songwriter and lyricist, who’s enjoyed an eclectic career and moves easily between folk, blues and country, would write enough material to create what would become her third studio album.


Without her knowledge, Fuller sent some of the songs to T. Bone Burnett seeking some input from the Grammy Award-winning producer. Burnett knew his client would be freaked out and become a nervous wreck waiting for Burnett’s assessment of the new material.


Burnett liked what he heard so much he summoned Presley to his Los Angeles home and said he wanted to work with her on what would become her third album, Storm & Grace. The album, released in May, has been described as a country-pop “moody masterpiece” that explores the demons and angels in her life.


Once she was ready to go into the studio, Burnett’s idea was to pair Presley with a variety of different writers and musicians to help her craft her new sound. Collaborators included songwriter and guitarist Richard Hawley of the band Pulp, Fran Healey from the band Travis and songwriter Ed Harcourt.


The writing process sounded fairly simply. Presley said she wasn’t influenced by any outside musical influences.


“Honestly, at the time, I was not listening to any music at all,” Presley told Spinner magazine in May. “What happened with these songs was I would sit with the co-writer and we’d lock in on a melody and a format, and then they’d basically leave me in a room five to six hours. Then they come back in and wonder what’s come out of it, out of all that.”


All told, Presley and her writers created more than two dozen songs over a two-year period. Then she turned them over to Burnett hoping he could work the same magic on her album that he’s applied to a broad swath of artists ranging from Roy Orbison, Elton John, Tony Bennett and k.d. lang to John Mellencamp, Elvis Costello and Diana Krall.


“He has an orbit of musicians that he loves and rearranges them accordingly with what he’s recording,” said Presley, who performs Saturday, Nov. 10, in the Xanadu at Trump Taj Mahal. “I had the utmost respect with everything he wanted to do. He already had his ideas. I wasn’t going to interject mine. I never would have gotten in his way. And they were all so incredible you couldn’t argue.”


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