By George Lenker
on November 11, 2013
Lisa Marie Presley will perform on Sunday at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton. She's The King's only child, but Lisa Marie Presley acts nothing like a princess.
The down-to-earth daughter of Elvis dug deep into her roots last year, releasing "Storm and Grace," a moody, raw slice of Americana that garnered critical acclaim. She will perform songs from the album at her show at the Iron Horse Music Hall on Sunday. She discussed the making of the record during a recent telephone conversation.
On your latest album, "Storm and Grace," you used one of my favorite producers, T-Bone Burnett. Talk a little bit about how you came to work with him.
Lisa: "It has always been a dream of mine to work with him and I just mentioned that one day in passing to my manager. Then, I went away and wrote about 30 songs. I had no record deal. I totally changed my life. I sold my house, bought a house in England and was about to leave, and my manager had sent the demos over to him and he responded immediately and wanted me to come meet him. So I met with him and he said he really liked what he heard and wanted to work on the project. I was very excited."
The record certainly sounds different than your earlier works. What do you think he brought to the project that made it different?
Lisa: "Well, the flavor was already there. Some of the demos are very similar to what's on the record. A couple of the songs changed dramatically, but a lot of them stuck pretty close to the format on the demos. The big difference is that, of course, we recorded all live, which is different than I've ever done it before."
"Of course, he added a lot of incredible icing on the cake. But I've done a lot of interviews with him and I've heard him say this: That the direction had already started showing itself in the demos. I don't think he would've responded if he would've heard a bunch of slick, poppy demos. He, of course, brought his own flavor to it. But he also gave me a lot of space."
Speaking of that, the record definitely has a cohesive sound to it which is odd because you wrote with a lot of different people on it. What do you think made that happen?
Lisa: "You know, it was a very interesting experiment because I wrote with like 10 different people. For the record I gravitated towards three of them, Richard Hawley (of Pulp), Ed Harcourt and Sacha Skarbek (Travis). But (manager) Simon Fuller just let me go and get with every type a writer in every type of situation. He said it was very interesting that no matter who we put me with, my thing was still very much there. Regardless of who I wrote with, I came through. It just happened that way. But it was not a concerted effort or anything."
What about your personal writing process? How do you go about it?
Lisa: "I just sit down with somebody and I usually come up with a melody. Someone will start playing something on an instrument and melodies will come to me. I just turn into a conduit. I don't know where it comes from. I was writing with Billy Corgan one time and he said to me, "Melodies just come to you. It's a bizarre gifted because you don't play anything, You pull these melodies from somewhere and you need to hone in on that." That was like 15 years ago and at the time I didn't know what that meant yet. Then melodies evoke lyrics and I'll spend hours alone working on the lyrics."
Has moving to England influenced your music at all?
Lisa: "I think it made me appreciate Americana music more than even when I was here. I think getting away from everything gave me space to really appreciate things that I hadn't appreciated enough before. Including my own father's music. Not that I didn't appreciate him. Of course I love him. But this is different. Now I appreciate him more musical way."
Speaking of your father, Graceland was named the top iconic American attraction by USA Today last month How do you feel about that, since obviously it was your home?
Lisa: "I was excited by that. Obviously, it's my home and I think the other contenders were like The White House and Disneyland, so I was kind of blown away. I couldn't believe it."