LMP breaks from the past with her new CD, Storm and Grace
If you think you know Lisa Marie Presley, then think again.
The 44-year-old singer, who appears at Casino Rama on Nov. 15, has spent most of her life in the shadow of famous men like her father (Elvis, of course) and ex-husbands like Michael Jackson and Nicolas Cage.
"I know that's how people have always looked at me," she says on the phone from California, speaking in a husky voice that has a definite don't-mess-with-me edge to it. "To tell you the truth, it's how I used to look at myself and that was not a healthy thing to do, but it was something I was just born into."
But, as with any problem, the first step is admitting there is a problem and Presley does that head on in her new CD, Storm and Grace.
On one cut called "Sticks and Stones" she even has the voices of the world outside her saying "Too bad she ain't just like her daddy/Oh what a shame/She got no talent of her own/It's just her name."
And the rest of the songs on the album (which one critic called "The best thing any Presley has done since 'Suspicious Minds,'") show a woman who isn't any daddy's little girl or any superstar's doting wife.
Her earlier albums were successful enough, in a kind of Sheryl Crow-wannabe sort of way, but truth be told they had nothing to say.
No one could level that accusation at Storm and Grace, which is full of songs about breaking old ties, ending past relationships and starting from scratch, which is what Presley has been doing with her life.
Two years ago, she moved to England with her husband, Michael Lockwood, and their twin daughters, leaving everything behind.
At the time, tabloids suggested Presley was suffering from a breakdown or leaving show business forever, but nothing could be further from the truth.
"I wasn't breaking down," she laughs, a bit bitterly. "I was breaking through. I just suddenly realized I had to leave the country and everyone surrounding me, and just get some space."
Some of the changes were clearly professional, leaving her old label and the people she had made her earlier albums with, but the deeper things she had to disconnect from were all highly personal.
Presley had been a longtime member of the Church of Scientology, but media reports suggested she had broken off that association.
One of the lyrics ("So Long") on her CD lashes out at organized religions and says, "These roads, they don't lead to anything/These people they talk, they say nothing."
But when asked if this refers to Scientology, Presley shuts the door. "Three things I don't discuss: politics, ex-husbands and religion."
She's a lot more forthcoming, however, about the other things she chose to leave behind and break away from with her move to England.
"I'd built up certain relationships over the years with people I'd come to trust. These are people you put in charge of a lot of your life, turning decisions over to them.
"But then one day you turn around and discover that your world is suddenly toxic and these people are the ones facilitating all this toxicity, encouraging it to happen."
Presley began by firing the people in question, "personal assistants who had been misrepresenting me to the world and vice versa," but she soon felt she had to cut even deeper.
"I was just surrounded by too many people, which is easy to have happen when you're a celebrity. Most of them have their own entourages and you often never get to see the real intention of the person underneath because of all the smoke they surround themselves with.
"Every time I see a celebrity walk in with a whole crapload of people around them, I want to say, 'Watch out, those people are going to bury you alive one day.'"
The bottom line was, in Presley's words, "I had to get rid of everyone."
So she moved to a small British town, settled in and began to create some new songs.
"When I'm writing, I'm processing stuff. It's kind of a therapeutic thing for me. I detach, I get lost in it, but I don't wallow in it. I'm not into the whole 'Woe is me, I am miserable' school of songwriting.
"Then, once I've written a song, I'm done with it. Of course, I have to record it and perform it over and over again, but I never have to go as deep into the emotions that inspired the song once it's down on paper."
Presley is in the middle of a lengthy North American tour to promote Storm and Grace and she's been gratified by the audience response so far.
"I don't feel people are judging me. They're just looking at all the roads I've gone down and watching my journey.
"And me? I'm always learning. When I'm learning, I'm living."