Singer, songwriter and poet Elizabeth Woolridge Grant, or more commonly known by her stage name Lana Del Rey is back with her long anticipated seventh album ‘Chemtrails Over the Country Club’ which has the stylised cinematic quality Del Rey is known for in just 11 tracks and 45 minutes.
Released March 19th, ‘Chemtrails Over the Country Club’ was produced by Lana Del Rey and Jack Antonoff, and features additional production contributions from Rick Nowels, whom Lana worked with on past studio albums, including ‘Born to Die’ and ‘Ultraviolence’. The new record reflects on fame, love, loneliness and the nostalgia for simpler times when she was known by her previous stage personas – Lizzy Grant, Sparkle Jump Rope Queen and May Jailer.
The album begins with Lana reminiscing on her simpler life before fame and wonders if it would be best if she never had fame in the first place. The single, ‘White Dress’ starts with dreamy broken up and whisper like vocals which hearkens back to her Lizzy Grant days, reflecting the fragility and innocence of when Del Rey was “only 19” on the verge of something huge back in 2005 working at a diner.
“When I was a waitress wearing a tight dress
Handling the heat
I wasn’t famous“, she sings in the chorus.
As she innocently sings “look how I do this, look how I got this”, comes the fall: “it kind of makes me feel like I was better off”. Lana questions whether the fame and glamour that comes with becoming a celebrity at such a young age was worth the criticism she has received for glamourising her abusive past relationships, alcoholism and drug use.
At the album’s other end is a cover of a classic by Joni Mitchell as Lana Del Rey is joined by Weyes Blood and Zella Day in a beautiful blend of velvety vocals which create a striking symphony to accompany the piano and softly strum guitar. Similarly, to ‘White Dress’ Lana too reflects on fame in ‘For Free’ but in this track she wishes she could play and perform for less selfish reasons then money, fame and glamour. Perhaps serving as a criticism on the current standards of the media industry – a musician is required to receive wide media prominence before seeming worthy of recognition.
Now me, I play for fortunes
And those velvet curtain calls, Lana sings in the second verse.
Fame is just one concern: The motif of love is first presented in ‘Tulsa Jesus Freak’ an experimental track for Del Rey in which she talks about the fragility of her happiness and morality as something that has been compromised in her relationship due to her partner’s alcoholism. However, the passion, devotion and loyalty in their relationship is something that means they will stay forever as she sings, we will be “white hot forever”.
Del Rey is known for her past relationships which feature domestic abuse, manipulation and unhappiness as seen in ‘Ultraviolence’ as she sings: “Jim hit me and it felt like a kiss”. Yet, in ‘Yosemite’ a folk type, happy love song she sings about a relationship in which she no longer feels fragile as her lover has made her feel like she’s invincible and can do anything. This new found stability is further portrayed in the pre-chorus, “no more candle in the wind” sang in a high register which would suggest that her fire can no longer be put out/ she cannot be blow away which is in stark contrast to the restrictive and controlling relationships she’s been in the past.
“You make me feel I’m invincible
Just like I wanted
No more candle in the wind” she sings in the pre-chorus.
In ‘Chemtrails Over the Country Club’, while Lana pays an ode to the past as her previous personas and rise to fame, she leaves all that behind as she aims to seek happiness and freedom from the control her past relationships and the media have had on her in the past – “I’m not unhinged or unhappy”, she sings, “I’m still so strange and wild” in the title track of the album.