The first thing that must be said is that as a songwriter,
Lisa Marie Presley has strong skills. She wrote or co-wrote most
of the 11 songs on 'To Whom It May Concern' and her lyrics are evocative,
touching and powerful.
But be warned, her recordings also include explicit
language, although on several songs its use is particularly effective.
The album opens with 'S.O.B'. The initial infectious
beat raises expectations and the attractive relentless beat is maintained
throughout a very good and aurally satisfying track.
The Road Between could have been an inspiring
ballad but the strong lyrics aren't done justice by the distant
feel of Lisa's vocals. Lights Out,
the first single from the album is a standout track.
'Better Beware', co-written by first husband
Danny Keough and Eric Rosse, is a song about relationships, both
physical and emotional. It evokes some very powerful images:
"Plant your seed. Steamless conversation"
The song is one of the strongest tracks on the album
and is full of Lisa's personal reflection on one of her closest
"I'm no longer your erection, or your congregation"
'Nobody Noticed It' has been interpreted as a protective
ode to Elvis:
"I wish I had spent just a little more time with you.
Tears in my ceiling Well they tried to make you look broken, but
not while I'm living"
This is a track that strikes a real chord. Listen to
it over and over and it grabs you by the throat!
On 'Sinking In', Lisa expresses her feelings
about marriage to Michael Jackson(?):
"Was it that I turned every one against you. Was it
that I didn't defend you. Was it I always tried to save you and
you never wanted me to" With some nice vocal and instrumentation
lifts, it is a revealing, appealing track.
The one song on the album that confounds me is 'Important'.
I've listened to it several times and I'm still not sure what to
make of it. Lisa's ability to lift her vocals to a higher range,
rather than the low, husky tone that is her natural pitch, is evident,
and her pre-occupation with death once again comes across in the
lyrics. There is also good variation throughout the song in both
pacing and beat, making it a very listenable track. But something
still confounds me...I just can't put my finger what.
'So Lovely' was written for Lisa's children.
A beautiful, haunting ballad, it reveals the strength of her love
for Riley and Benjamin, and echoes the fears Lisa felt as she watched
Elvis' health deteriorate in the last few years before his death:
"Please don't fear to lose me. You know I have those
same fears too"
In 'So Lovely' Lisa also points at the dilemma of parental
"Sometimes don't listen to your Mamma no. And don't
do as I do"
The ninth track 'Indifferent' continues Lisa's
narrative ability to evoke potent imagery:
"The guillotine of truth has fallen, somehow I'm the
one you blame"
'The penultimate track 'Gone' sees Lisa in particularly
dark form on the transience of and manipulation in relationships:
"A spineless ending. Well, who would have guessed dear
daddy. Turned out to be a coward. When I turned my back you cut
my throat it bled for hours"
The final track (or is it??) on the album, the titular
'To Whom It May Concern' is a powerful statement about the
plight of children in a society where there is an overuse of medication.
As a socially aware statement its lyrics are a powerful narrative
with an explosive ending!
And I recommend you check this track out very carefully
or you may miss something! On listening to many of the lyrics throughout
the album one is struck by how much Lisa's recording of the tracks
is a cathartic experience for her, as she cleanses her body and
mind of toxic events and experiences of her past and present.
The album cover features the now very familiar side
on shot of a sullen Lisa Presley and while a picture disc would
have been welcomed, the metallic silver disc with white dots is
nevertheless interesting. Lisa contributed to the liner notes and
her comments are heartfelt and will touch many a fan with their
raw emotion and honesty.
The album is an enhanced disc and features the 'Lights
Out' video and a behind-the-scenes look at the video's making. Other
reviewers have commented that on many tracks Lisa's vocals are overshadowed
by the louder instrumentation.
This is a generally fair comment and how it could have
happened given modern recording techniques is amazing (or was it
deliberate?). A minor tweaking to give a better vocal-instrumentation
balance was arguably needed and would, in my opinion, have added
real value to the production. As for Lisa Presley’s vocal qualities,
there is no doubt she can definitely sing with her brooding, husky
As I noted earlier in the review, Lisa has a definite
strength as a songwriter. Whether or not her ability to vocally
interpret songs is as strong will require two or three subsequent
albums on which she can explore and develop her musical talent.
To Whom It May Concern is simply too much a very personal statement
by Lisa for us to effectively assess her vocal ability and musical
charisma. It is at times a darkly brooding album but one that suggests
of greater things to come once the artist focuses on less personally
dark issues in her music.
Verdict: To Whom It May Concern is an impressive
debut album from Lisa Marie Presley, lyrically potent and vocally
full of potential. Its intensely personal nature won't be to everyone's
liking but it portends of greater things to come. Essentially an
album of dark rock ballads, some of which are very strong, it lacks
the inclusion of ‘lighter’ tracks that would make it appealing to
many Elvis fans.
However its overall feel and edginess appears to be
very much in step with the tastes of the (younger) general music
buying public and with the right promotion (a factor that sadly
appears to be lacking) it could be a major sales success. To Whom
It May Concern is an album that will grow on you!
EIN Copyright 2003
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