If you know Lana Del Rey as the patriotic pop princess who sings about her ‘Summertime Sadness’ with a beehive even Priscilla Presley would envy, then her newest album ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’ might be a shock. Experimenting with country and a more stripped-back style, Del Rey proves herself to be even more musically diverse than was previously known – all the while taking her listeners on a trip around America.
On the lead single Let Me Love You Like a Woman, Lana softly sings: “I’m ready to leave LA and I want you to come” – hinting to listeners that they’re about to leave the Southern California setting of her previous album ‘Norman F****** Rockwell!’ and travel East. Venice and Laurel Canyon are exchanged for Louisiana and Arkansas, and the West Coast rock takes on a richer, folk style. Maybe Lana Del Rey – who was born named Elizabeth Woolridge Grant in Manhattan – is slowly making her way home.
With honest explorations of stardom, breakups and philosophy, Lana is seemingly no longer hiding behind the heart-shaped sunglasses seen from her ‘Born to Die’ and ‘Honeymoon’ eras
Throughout her career, it’s been unclear just how much ‘Lana’ and how much ‘Elizabeth’ has made up her lyricism. ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’ is possibly the most ‘Elizabeth’ album the singer has produced. With honest explorations of stardom, breakups and philosophy, Lana is seemingly no longer hiding behind the heart-shaped sunglasses seen from her ‘Born to Die’ and ‘Honeymoon’ eras.
The album opens with an intrinsically ‘Elizabeth’ song: White Dress. This delicate track with ethereal vocals sees her reminisce on “simpler-times.” The dreamy, celestial sounds transport listeners to her adolescence, when she waitressed, blissfully ignorant of the fame she would soon experience: “I felt free ‘cause I was only nineteen.”
Del Rey’s high-pitched singing matches the sentiment of the lyrics
Del Rey’s high-pitched singing matches the sentiment of the lyrics, as she explores how her innocence and fragility at the time were commercialised by both her waitressing job as well as the music industry. The vocals on White Dress see her embracing the vulnerability she once felt forced to hide.
This premise is also seen on the Beatles-esque track Dark But Just A Game where Lana suggests that her femininity caused her grief: “I was a pretty little thing and God I loved to sing but nothing came from either one but pain.” The mystical, brooding song also sees Lana reflect on celebrity culture and the drawbacks of fame. Sonically, it’s possibly the strongest on the album, with a rich and slightly foreboding instrumental, reminiscent of 70s Alt-Rock.
Wild At Heart showcases the best of Lana’s voice, which takes on a textured, raspy quality in the chorus
Sampling her 2019 song How to Disappear, Wild At Heart showcases the best of Lana’s voice, which takes on a textured, raspy quality in the chorus. She again explores the downsides of fame, alluding to the late Princess Diana: “The cameras have flashes, they cause the car crashes.”
Like some of her earlier discography, such as within her short film Tropico and her ‘Ultraviolence’ song Brooklyn Baby, Not All Those Who Wonder Are Lost sees Lana glamorise a Beatnik way of life. The song encapsulates the travelogue quality of the album, as Lana presents a Jack Kerouac ‘On The Road’ type lifestyle, divulging over delicate guitar how: “Not all those who wonder are lost, it’s just wanderlust.”
The album’s title track – Chemtrails Over The Country Club – is in idiosyncratically Lana style, shallowly romanticising old money ‘country club’ America: “There’s nothing wrong contemplating God, under the chemtrails over the country club.” This illustration of America is visualised in the album art, which replicates styles from Nineteenth Century upper class America. However, the mystical sound and reference to “chemtrails” gives the song a darker tang, suggesting a sense of impending doom. Presenting a picturesque view of America with subtle judgmental undertones is something Del Rey has become a master of in her more recent work.
‘Lust for Life’ and ‘Norman F****** Rockwell!’ saw Lana take a more critical approach towards her homeland, differing from the “be young, be dope, be proud like an American” type patriotism hailed on ‘Paradise’. Following Trump’s 2016 election win, Lana also decided to no longer sing with an American flag, representing a shift in how she sees the USA.
Much of the album finds Lana embracing a new, matured style. Breaking Up Slowly and Dance Til We Die both see her experiment with Americana, folk and Jazz. However, there’s still hints of iconic ‘Lanarism’ sprinkled throughout. Tulsa Jesus Freak sees her mock her Christ-obsessed lover: “You should stay real close to Jesus, keep that bottle at your hand, my man.” This lyric follows the same, intrepid style of her notorious lyric: “If he’s a serial killer then what’s the worst that can happen to a girl who’s already hurt?”
Lana has always paid tribute to her favourite artists. ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’ continues this trend, referencing Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez and Stevie Nicks on Dance Til We Die: “I’m coverin’ Joni and I’m dancin’ with Joan, Stevie is callin’ on the telephone.” The album closes with a clean cover of Mitchell’s For Free featuring Zella Day and Weyes Blood.
‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’ cements Lana’s place as an artist who will be remembered in the same light as those to whom she pays homage
‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’ cements Lana’s place as an artist who will be remembered in the same light as those to whom she pays homage. With 45 minutes of heavenly melodies accompanied by thoughtful poetry, this latest album marks a stellar moment in Lana Del Rey’s already dazzling career.
In-article images courtesy of @lanadelrey via instagram.com. No changes made to these images.
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