When Lisa Marie Presley’s debut album, “To Whom It May Concern,” came out in 2003, it didn’t sound a lot like you might expect from the daughter of Elvis. You could hear echoes of The King in her voice, and see his reflection in her face, but overall it was a much more pop experience than critics and fans were expecting.
Presley was fighting against expectations with that album and the follow-up, “Now What.” With this year’s “Storm & Grace,” the musician who plays Wooly’s Monday is finally embracing her roots.
“I did try to avoid what people were expecting,” Presley said during a phone interview. “I didn’t want to be perceived … I’m one of those people who is rebellious. Sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes I shoot myself in the foot. I needed to fight my way through it and find myself in the songwriting. I probably went out of my way not to sound anything like people wanted.
“This time I sat and wrote naturally and let what happened to happen. It just so happens there was more embracing it.”
“Storm & Grace” was produced by T Bone Burnett, who has worked on back-to- basics albums for acts like Roy Orbison and John Mellencamp and soundtracks like “O Brother, Where Are Thou” and “Walk the Line.”
She also did all of the songwriting for “Storm & Grace” in England, working with co- writers from the UK like Richard Haley of Pulp and Fran Healy from Travis. The result is a distinctly American sound, despite its genesis in England.
“The English have a great appreciation for American history and tradition,” Presley said. “I could feel that it wasn’t forced, as opposed to if someone had said ‘Write a rootsy album.’ That wouldn’t have been what I had written. It was so natural, but it does seem a little ironic that it ended up happening there.”
Presley said the poppier sound of “To Whom It May Concern” and “Now What” is behind her, but the songs may not be. During this initial tour she’s just focusing on songs from “Storm & Grace,” but when she heads out again later this year she plans to add older songs like “Lights Out” and her take on “Dirty Laundry” to sets. She’s currently reworking some of those songs with her husband, guitarist Michael Lockwood, who is touring as her main guitarist.
Presley is protective of her father’s image, as well as that of her ex-husband, Michael Jackson. Last month she had a letter Jackson had written to her removed from auction after she appealed to the auction house. For her father, she oversees The Elvis Presley Charitable Foundation, which continues his generous attitude toward the Memphis area and elsewhere.
That protective nature reared its head a bit during the interview’s one Elvis-related question “Have any lessons you learned from your dad, either directly or indirectly, applied to the making of your music?”
She thought for a moment, then said:
“I can’t say anything specifically directly regarding my music. Nothing specifically is coming to mind. I’m sure there’s something, I just don’t want to give a stupid answer.”
Lisa Marie Presley
Lisa Marie Presley
When: 8 p.m. Monday
Where: Wooly’s, 504 E. Locust St.
Cost: $20 in advance, $22 at the door.