10/14/2013 .. by Frank Scheck
Venue City Winery
New York City
(Sunday, Oct. 13)
The singer unveiled her new stripped-down musical style in a club show touting 2012 album "Storm and Grace." It’s fitting that Lisa Marie Presley filmed the video for her song “Weary” at Memphis’ Sun Studios, where her legendary father recorded his early singles six decades earlier. That track, along with the rest of her new album Storm and Grace, features her performing in a roots rock mode that stands in marked contrast to her earlier pop-rock efforts. The style well befits the husky-voiced singer, who delivered a good portion of its songs during her intimate show Sunday night at NYC’s City Winery.
Accompanied by a first-rate five-piece band that included her husband Michael Lockwood (sporting a bizarre feathered top hat) on guitar, Presley delivered a strong 90-minute set that well showcased the strengths of her new material. Despite her heritage, she’s not a natural stage performer, displaying little sign of Elvis’ aggressive charisma. But she revealed an endearing warmth and vulnerability, especially when she phoned her son from the stage so he could her hear rendition of the album’s title track. “He better answer the phone,” she warned.
Not that she’s shy and retiring, either. Her rendition of “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” featured an impressive swagger, as did “Idiot,” a self-described “mean” kiss-off song to a former lover that features such less than subtle lyrics as “I hate your guts.”
“This person is still very much running around, and still an idiot,” she said by way of introduction."
Although her vocals were occasionally drowned out in the mix, Presley did unveil impressive pipes on such songs as “Sticks and Stones,” the opening chorus of which she belted out unaccompanied.
Her new sound features country, blues and folk influences, no surprise considering that the album was produced by T Bone Burnett. The stripped-down style was emphasized by the generous doses of fiddle, mandolin and steel and pedal guitar featured prominently in the arrangements.
Showmanship was largely absent, save for her dramatically pounding a drum during such final numbers as “Un-Break.” She also took the opportunity to urgently tout her charity partner for the tour, World Vision, an organization addressing worldwide childhood poverty.
While ballads like “Weary” and the plaintive “Just Like a Dream” featured her performing in a quiet mode, the show’s encore of “I’ll Figure It Out” and a cover of Tom Petty’s “Need to Know” allowed her and the band to unveil their harder rocking side.
Storm of Nails
You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet
Just Like a Dream
Storm and Grace
Soften the Blows
Sticks and Stones
I’ll Figure It Out
Need to Know