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  • Writer's pictureBradley Gambosi

Lana Del Rey Reclaims Her Truth on “Blue Banisters”

“Blue Banisters” - Lana Del Rey (2021)

A mere 7 months have gone by since the release of the Jack Antonoff produced, Chemtrails Over The Country Club. Many, including myself, expected Blue Banisters to be a continuation of the conversations had in the previous album; however, being released in 2021 is the only similarity these albums share.

These followed a year of controversy from negative articles and posts questioning her brand of feminism to her choice of masks, even to the point of creating straight up lies that disgustingly body shamed the singer. Del Rey made her intentions with Blue Banisters clear from the beginning: “I’m writing my own story, and nobody can tell it but me.”

The opening track, “Text Book,” starts off as a beautiful ballad and transforms with a tempo change in the chorus that is a complete ear-worm. It also offers heart punching lyrics: “Do you think if I go blond, we could get our old love back?” She also looks back at the Black Lives Matter protests she attended last summer: “I screamed for them / I screamed for them.”

The rich piano ballad “Arcadia” houses some of Del Rey’s best vocals yet, and unexpectedly transitions into an interlude track, “The Trio.” A heavy hitting hip-hop inspired track that samples “Il triello,” from the famous movie The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Following this track is an even bigger shock and highlight of the album — “Black Bathing Suit.” This track begins with an eerie sound of a crow and subtle piano, completely transforming into dense percussion with her screams layered in the background. “They say I was bad let me show you how bad girls do / Cause no one does it better.” On this track, Del Rey directly addresses her many critics. “You don’t know me any better than they do, baby,” she sings to those who make assumptions of her character. “Oh let ’em talk about me / They’re just yesterday’s news / They’re f*cking broke and we’re laughin’ about them” — controversy & headlines are only temporary, but her legacy is already permanent.

Not only does she address her critics, but in “Wildflower Wildfire” she also addresses the trauma — even alluding to abuse — she faced from her estranged mother, Patricia Grant, while growing up. “My father never stepped in when his wife would rage at me / So I ended up awkward but sweet.” She paints her estranged relationship with her mother and the contrasting relationships with her parents once again on “Black Bathing Suit.” “I’m not friends with my mother, but I still love my dad.”

The best track on the album is undoubtedly the jazzy “Dealer,” in which Del Rey is accompanied by the vocals of Miles Kane — a member of The Last Shadow Puppets. The heavy, emotion filled track has a furious Lana at the forefront, basically screaming her way through the lyrics, “I don’t wanna live / I don’t wanna give you nothing / Cause you never give me nothing back / Why can’t you be good for something?” The vocal pairing between Kane and Del Rey works perfectly, and the up-tempo track accompanied by an unmissable vocal performance easily keeps listeners interested halfway through the 15 track album — just please don’t try and find her through her dealer.

Some tracks from the album are previously leaked demos from past albums that were already many longtime fan favorites such as “Living Legend” — originally meant for Ultraviolence (2014) — and “Cherry Blossom” — originally meant for Lust For Life (2017). “I was just living on the edge / Right between Heaven and Hell / And I’m tired of it,” she croons on “Living Legend” in true Lana Del Rey genius by her distorted vocals that perfectly mimic an electric guitar.

The main track that doesn’t stick out within the mix is “Nectar Of The Gods,” another previously leaked demo. While it offers an enjoyable change by utilizing an acoustic guitar rather than relying on piano, it blurs into the background with repetitive lyrics when compared to the rest.

“Sweet Carolina,” the closer of the album, is an ode to her sister Caroline Grant, who was pregnant during the production of this album. It’s a track of twinkling piano that’s simply pretty. The beautifully written love letter to family and the soon to arrive baby unexpectedly has Del Rey singing, “You name your babe Lilac Heaven / After your iPhone 11 / ‘Crypto forever,’ screams your stupid boyfriend,” ending with the humorous refrain you could only find on a Lana Del Rey album, “F*ck you Kevin.”

After the press backlashes and PR disasters that followed her previous album release, Blue Banisters is the long anticipated return to serenity that allows her to explain herself and directly address her biggest critics through her best attribute — music. Chemtrails was a solid album, but Blue Banisters is the much more remarkable project out of the duo she released this year. Along with her best vocals yet, this album allows listeners to remember that one thing doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon — Lana Del Rey is still just as intriguing as she has been since the beginning.

Rating: 9/10 ★

Give Blue Banisters a listen below! (All circuits are busy, goodbye…)

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