Family relationships, empty parties and the eternal struggle of finding a partner- welcome to the woozy and wonderful world of Lana Del Rey, whose latest album Blue Banisters was released on 22nd October. Blue Banisters is a diversion from the catchy pop of her early days, a set of introspective poem-like tracks.
The 36-year-old New York City born singer burst onto the scene in the early 2010s with her moody, murky track ‘Video Games’, which paved the way for the pop singer-songwriter. No longer reliant on big budget videos or massive press coverage, time away from the spotlight to reevaluate has enabled Del Rey to produce an album which she says tells her story “and nothing more”.
The opener, ‘Text Book’, is a delicate mingling of soft instrumentals and her fluttering, gripping vocals. A tentative tiptoe into an album full of the usual tropes of her albums: romance and Americana. Title track ‘Blue Banisters’ is a soaring piano ballad, a sketch of a group of women helping her through heartache caused by a man who said “he’d fix my weathervane, give me children, take away my pain, and paint my banisters blue”.
‘Arcadia’ is a soft piano-based song, the minimal musical arrangements provide the listener with the chance to appreciate Del Rey’s siren-esque vocals, despite clumsy lyrics like “run your hands over me like a Land Rover”. ‘Interlude – The Trio’ feels like a jigsaw piece that doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the album (and perhaps is more suited to her earlier, pop-heavy offerings) whilst ‘Black Bathing Suit’, ‘If You Lie Down With Me’, ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Violets for Roses’ showcase Del Rey at the peak of her song writing prowess. They are seductive tracks which show off a more sensitive, sombre side that listeners may have forgotten about due to her pop-heavy offerings of late.
The jazz-influenced Miles Kane fronted track ‘Dealer’ and the swinging string section on ‘Thunder’ take the album in a different, potentially risky direction, yet these tracks prove to be impressive anomalies which showcase that – even though she is a well established musician – her style is constantly evolving.
The closing tracks range from soft acoustic tracks like ‘Nectar of the Gods’, soaring highs on ‘Living Legend’ to wistful piano track ‘Cherry Blossom’ .
The final track of the album ‘Sweet Carolina’ is a poignant and beautiful end to the album. A love letter to her sister, she croons, “Don’t have to write me a letter cause I’ll always be right here/ Closer to you than your next breath.” The cheeky aside “Fuck you, Kevin” makes this a slow, personal inside joke – an unexpected, deeply personal end to the 1 hour and 1 minute journey.
Gone are the gimmicks and the sweaty-club ready remixes – in their place stands a collection of songs that are simple, stripped back, and a showcase not only of the music that made Del Rey so popular, but of the woman behind the music as well.
Words by Jen Rose
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