Released almost exactly two years after To Whom It May Concern, Lisa Marie Presley’s second effort, Now What, doesn’t stray far from the formula that brought her moderate success her first time out. The production is slick, the lyrics are pointed, and the risks are few—hell, even the cover is similar. Sans punctuation, the album’s title seems to pose a challenge rather than a question: Presley’s debut was met with a semi-warm reception, but, now that the novelty has worn off, it remains to be seen whether her career’s got legs. The album’s first cut, “I’ll Figure It Out” (co-written by Linda Perry, who brought out the grit in Pink and Christina Aguilera), features predictable chest-thumping lyrics such as: “Boat-rocking trouble maker/Non-conforming shit starter/With the rebel DNA pirate spirit.” Isn’t she a little old for this? Despite the pleasurable sting of the scathing “Idiot” and “Dirty Laundry” (a cover of a stand-out track from Don Henley’s 1982 solo debut that, as an attack on the media, could have been written specifically for Presley), the brooding “outsider” schtick—which, for the record, was tired the first time around—doesn’t do Presley justice. Beneath the hard exterior, there’s a likeable girl, best represented on songs like “Raven,” where she lets her vulnerability show. The track, the title of which presumably references her mother’s formerly dyed black hair, includes a voice sample of a 3-year-old Presley and, along with “Shine,” featuring Pink on backing vocals, and the string-laden “Turned To Black,” features one of Presley’s best vocal performances to date.
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