King’s woolThe latest album begins with the infamous singer-songwriter reminiscing about a time before fame. Sung to a soprano hovering at the edge of her range, White Dress portrays 19-year-old Del Rey in a tight uniform, working as a waitress in the mid-2000s and dreaming about what’s to come. “At the Men in Music Business conference,” he confesses breathlessly, the budding artist finally feels “seen.”
At the other end of the album is a cover of For Free by Joni Mitchell, in which the great lady of the song reflected, in 1970, how a busker can play “really well, for free” with so little acclaim, while Mitchell herself is winning it. as a celebrity. Del Rey’s album has more than one arc, but one is a numbers game. In White Dress she is alone; At the end, he is joined by Weyes Blood and singer-songwriter Zella Day, each singing a verse by Joni and joining in with the perfect harmonies of the time, weighing up the contradictions.
Throughout this excellent seventh outing, Del Rey frequently chews on the nagging business of success, his loneliness, and his camaraderie. She approaches you in various bars, not only telling you her zodiac sign, Cancer, but her moon: Leo. In the middle is perhaps the largest segment of this great album. A minor key folk song that doesn’t bother trying to be anything other than, Yosemite dates back to the sessions of Del Rey’s 2017 album, Lust for life, but it embodies this album’s concern for craftsmanship. “We did it for fun, we did it for free,” he sings about his work, in one of Del Rey’s best voices to date. In Wild at Heart, he claims not to be a star, nodding obliquely to Princess Diana’s death – “the cameras had flashes, they caused the car crashes” – an impression only reinforced by repeated references to Elton John’s Candle in the Wind.
Fame is just a concern: Del Rey weighs the relative merits of change and constancy, of love and loneliness, all with intensely understated instrumentation provided by returning producer Jack Antonoff, who worked on Del Rey’s latest album, the equally extraordinary Norman damn Rockwell!. All these winks are carefully seeded through a set of songs that also reference each other.
The album title – Chemtrails on the Country Club – could have been used on many of Del Rey’s earlier records, pointing to the contrast between the white fences American and the uncomfortable dark side of the nation, an ongoing fascination for Lana Del Rey’s work. (“Chemtrails” refers to a conspiracy theory that condensation from airplanes is secretly entwined with nefarious chemicals.)
But this is a record full of beauty and a thoughtful autobiography that only a more experienced and more confident composer could have made. Although one of her central songs, Dark But Just a Game, resides on the seedier side of the Los Angeles celebrity, the dead-eyed boredom of Del Rey’s previous leads seems to be behind her, replaced by something less shy and more direct. These are melodies full of bellicose vulnerability and unapologetic beauty, riddled with Laurel Canyon throwbacks and elegiac, multi-track vocals. Del Rey has moved closer to conventionality, but on his own terms. She will still be “high on pink champagne” (a form of MDMA), a barfly equally at home in Calabasas, a celebrity enclave in the Los Angeles hills, or tempting a “Tulsa Jesus fanatic” back to bed. .
Love songs continue to predominate in the work of this inveterate romantic, but throughout ChemtrailsDel Rey repeatedly relies on the mentorship and solidarity of her fellow songwriters. In addition to Weyes Blood and Day, singer-songwriter Nikki Lane duets with Del Rey on a country tune, Breaking Up Slowly (apparently, there are more country songs waiting behind the scenes). That track evokes long-suffering country singer Tammy Wynette and concludes that where the Del Rey lead might have once clung to, breaking up is “the right thing to do.” In addition, Del Rey also “covers Joni and dances with Joan [Baez]”While Stevie [Nicks] is “calling on the phone.” The album cover finds Del Rey surrounded by her sister and a group of friends, all glamorous and deliberately of many skin tones. (Del Rey has come under fire for some misjudged comments online about the production of women of color, which she says were misinterpreted.)
Del Rey no longer sells a kind of committed ultra-femininity; she’s doing “the two-step, tall, bright Louisiana” with her squad. In the video for the title track, her pack turns into sexy werewolves at night, referencing, perhaps, Clarissa Pinkola Estés. Women who run with the Wolves and the recent Disney + Marvel deal WandaVision as much as The magician of Oz. Del Rey struggles to clarify something very important: “I’m not unhinged or unhappy,” she sings, “I’m still so strange and wild.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism