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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisIt's taken Lisa Marie Presley a lot longer than most to find her musical identity, and while that path might not be completely paved at 44-years-old, she's much closer to the right track than ever before. That's because rather than reaching for pop superstardom like she did on 2003's "To Whom It May Concern" and 2005's "Now What," the singer/songwriter is stripping back the gloss for the more soul-bearing in comparison "Storm and Grace" (Universal Republic/XIX Recordings).
On her first tour in five years, the daughter of Elvis and one time wife of Michael Jackson focused all of her short but just right 50-minute set on that album, which blends her increasingly personal songwriting style with earthy production from T Bone Burnett (Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Elvis Costello, The Wallflowers). The results were a laid back, mellow, slightly bluesy and occasionally roots rockin' evening that suggested Presley may finally be getting comfortable in her own musical skin, even if there's still room for improvement.
Songs like "So Long" and "Over Me" got the show off a pleasant start, benefiting from the muscle of a five piece backing band that balanced charming acoustics with chunky percussion. Ballads like "Soften the Blows" and "Forgiving" were affable enough, but were a bit pedestrian in delivery, resulting in a less infectious connection. Luckily, "Un-Break" faired better and found the performer turning in her most passionate delivery of the night (including a cameo behind the drums), while a finale cover of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' "I Need To Know" seared with blustery classic rock riffs.
As a performer, Presley is clearly comfortable in front of the mic and had no trouble working the surprisingly small but respectably-filled Bottom Lounge. Though her run through "Storm and Grace" switched between promising and plain, its presentation appeared cathartic for the burgeoning star. In fact, if she continues baring her soul as a songwriter over this more authentic musical direction, Presley is perhaps capable of attaining the long-term artistry she's always craved.
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