Last week, i-D online joined Lisa Marie Presley in Soho as she debuted Storm and Grace, her haunting new goth blues album – which she wrote at her new home in England.
When Lisa Marie Presley gave a rare interview to Oprah Winfrey in 2010, she was recovering from the death of her ex-husband, Michael Jackson. “I still try to figure out what is it that I had to go through it twice where these two incredible people in my life had to go like that,” she said, referring to the parallels between Michael and her father Elvis Presley. When she appeared on stage at Ronnie Scott’s in Soho, it was a much more reconciled Lisa Marie, who sang to an intimate crowd of invited guests.
Her accomplished new album Storm and Grace, which she’s worked on for the past two years from her secluded estate near Royal Tunbridge Wells, largely deals with the emotions that followed in the wake of Michael’s passing. “So uneasy lay your head on those weary shoulders. I wanted to unburden them but you wouldn’t let go. Too dirty to clean your hands, too weary for sober. I was your prescription then, but the bottle ran out,” she sang, sometimes exposing the white of her eyes in what looked like an effort not to get too emotional on stage.
Lisa Marie has been reluctant to discuss the album’s lyrics, but the therapeutic nature of Storm and Grace leaves little doubt. Her performance was as haunting as the album. Standing next to her husband and guitarist Michael Lockwood, she was dressed in a floor-length black dress and big black desert boots, her signature Memphis blow-dry as big as ever, and seemed as stripped down emotionally as her show was technically. And as Lisa Marie’s tiny frame belted out those poignant lyrics, it was impossible not to get taken by this person, whose life has been shaped by the greatest musical legends to ever hit the planet.
Where most people who are born or married into fame spend their lives trying to detach themselves from their history, Lisa Marie embraces the weirdness and magnificence of her extraordinary fate, but does so in a way so far removed from the Hollywood fame circus that she sometimes comes off almost blasé. “America keeps asking me why I went to England to write a rootsy album,” Lisa Marie declared after her first song, referring to the dark, almost gothic blues that dominate her album. “I guess it’s because you know their music better than they do.”
It’s this kind of attitude which makes Lisa Marie the original icon of a generation, who glamorise the low key above the glitz. You don’t have to search long to see her influence on young stars like Kristen Stewart, or her own daughter – and i-D’s The Pick Me Up Issue cover girl – Riley Keough (pictured right). The ballsy mind-set was certainly present in Wednesday’s performance as well. When she sang ‘So Long’, the song she supposedly wrote about The Church of Scientology when recently she withdrew after a lifelong membership, she smiled cheekily throughout. “Farewell, fair-weathered friends. I can’t say I’ll miss you in the end.”