To be born, to grow, to develop. To be ourselves at every moment of our lives, combining the authenticity of what exists with what is possible.
As the years go by, we experience many joys and some bitterness. We gain maturity, experience and a way of being that makes us better humans.
All our actions present us to the world – and we always hope to give the best of ourselves: because no one wants to be recognised just for one bad moment, right?
Today we are talking about this: about growth, happiness, some sadness, but, above all, about an extraordinary human being, who entered our ears by storm and gained a very special space there. It’s time to celebrate Queen Lana Del Rey, with her latest album.
She is the queen of ‘deprassion’ – and yes, this is not a typo, she is really the combination of depression and passion, of light and night, of what we consider happiness and bitterness at the same time. The melancholy in person transport everything that is on top of us to the whole world. A nostalgic transformation, where the past seems more present than the moment itself.
Before she was Del Rey, she was ‘Del Ray, also known as Lizzy Grant‘, like her name, stamped and placed on her birth certificate.
From that moment until then, we listened to the immaculate Born To Die (2012), with timeless songs like “Born to Die”, “Blue Jeans”, “Video Games” or “Summertime Sadness”, Ultraviolence (2014) and “West Coast” or “Brooklyn Baby”, Honeymoon (2015), where we were “High By The Beach”, Lust For Life (2017), with a special collaboration with The Weeknd or even “White Mustang”, Norman Fucking Rockwell (2019), where we danced to “Venice Bitch”, “Doin’ Time” or “The Greatest” and, already this year, Chemtrails Over The Country Club, and a glorious entrance given by “White Dress”, “Chemtrails Over The Country Club” or “Let Me Love You Like A Woman”.
I confess: Lana del Rey enters my life in an unorthodox way in 2012. Her live performances were at their critical peak, where a degree of dissatisfaction seemed to take hold of those who saw her, given the nerves the singer displayed on stage. She came to Portugal, through Música no Coração, to the Super Bock Super Rock festival, in a year that featured Incubus, Bloc Party, Hot Chip, Alabama Shakes, M.I.A, Friendly Fires, The Rapture, Skrillex, Peter Gabriel, The Shins, Regina Spektor and Aloe Blacc.
At the time, I was listening to the first album as Del Rey, but I hadn’t yet given the definitive click on the music being listened to.
I went to the concert, with one of my best friends. Crushed among the crowd, I find myself getting lost from her and, suddenly, in the railing: Lana had just come on stage. Almost in unison, where I included myself, after all, I knew everything that was going on there. We sang, cried and vibrated together: especially around the half-hour of the concert when the Queen comes down from the stage and meets the crowd. Out of nowhere, she’s standing in front of me – and few were the moments possible to do any kind of interaction with her. It would probably be considered harassment today, but I managed to take a photo and give her a little kiss on the hand. I felt on cloud nine – and all those negative images I’d been hearing from her live concerts faded in a heartbeat. Lana del Rey is incredible, and from 2012 to 2021 the maturity on stage is demonstrated with every show that closes.
The maturity has been such that in between, I end up, more there than here, declaring myself to one of my life’s passions. But this is not the subject for these wanderings.
Since then she’s only been in Portugal once more, at the same festival, in 2019. As I’ve become a huge fan of her (to the point of buying every possible and imaginary version in CD, LP, Cassette format, among others) – and given the few times she came to Portugal – I decided, in 2018, to be part of her tour across Europe. There were three crazy dates, in April 2018: Antwerp, Barcelona and Madrid.
Alone, but always meeting good and rich people along the way (I salute, at the outset, Alex, Svetlana and her Cousin, three friends who booked the long queue in Barcelona, before we went in for the concert).
We arrived in 2021, and Lana decided to surprise us again: she didn’t just leave us with the wonderful Chemtrails Over The Country Club, but brought us, at the beginning of autumn across Europe, Blue Banisters: a true hymn to the music of the North American diva.
Not only do we talk about Lana’s voice (getting better and better), but we feel the artist is looser, freer and more alive. More than music, it’s poetry sung to our ears. It chills our soul and puts us in our senses.
We start with “Text Book”, a long sigh from the American artist, with a mysterious rhythm and a candidate for one of the best songs on the record: because we have the Lana we want to hear, mixed with her poetry book, “Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass” – and also a cinematic aspect, which promises to leave the listener attentive to every detail.
We move on to the album’s title track, “Blue Banisters” – and there’s no better way than to describe how this song as being Lana del Rey at her prime.
“Arcadia”, the third song on the record, was originally a poem – and one that may, in the future, be included in her yet-to-be-edited second book of poetry, “Behind the Iron Gates – Insights from an Institution”. It was written in a motel after breaking up with her boyfriend and is her favourite song on the album.
And on the fifth song, we have “Black Bathing Suit”, an anthem to the diva Del Rey, which is powerful, with multiple choruses, recalling the best times of the first album, Born to Die. We can, on the one hand, see that she is a little disappointed that she hasn’t found that special person with whom she wants to share a life, but, at the same time, she shows her claws, as she does so well:
“He said I was bad, let me show you how bad girls do
‘Cause no one does it better
He said I was bad, let me show you what bad girls do
‘Cause no one does it better“
Originally written in 2013 with Barrie-James O’Neill for Ultraviolence, “If You Lie Down With Me” this song was reworked and re-recorded for Blue Banisters. We feel like we are in a dream, with multiple references to songs from the past that beautifully cement the present and glimpse an even brighter future.
With a piano everything gets more beautiful, and “Beautiful” is no exception. We feel Del Rey pulling at the tears hidden in our bodies in order to create the best possible empathy with us. We feel free, unprotected, embraced by an incredible strength from Lana as if she knows us like the back of her hand. We apply the same formula in “Violets For Roses”, where choruses are still added to make this journey even more angelic.
“Dealer” brings up Miles Kane’s voice, with a very jazz-rock feel that promises to get any listener dancing.
Originally from a scrapped album recorded with The Last Shadow Puppets, we have “Thunder”, which features the pure rhythmic beat of the British artists – and which goes very well with Lana del Rey’s amazing voice.
And on the eleventh reprise, Del Rey metaphorically declares herself to her partner – saying she’s prepared to be both happy on an ad-eternal path. And it’s in her best style that we see that anyone can be happy with Elizabeth by their side. We talk about “Wildflower Wildfire” – and all the magic spread by the North-American artist.
With lots of country to the mix and Barrie-James O’Neill, we listen to “Nectar of Gods”, “Living Legend” and “Cherry Blossom” – which pull us into never-before-seen lands, always with the artist’s personal touch.
We close with “Sweet Caroline”, a statement to her sister, Chuck Grant – who was just three weeks away from giving birth to her daughter, Phoenix. And it’s so sweet we’ve been in repeat mode for a couple of beautiful hours.
Lana continues to make her way, and it’s on each record that she becomes the real Del Rey of it all. On a more personal and very melancholic record, we see that the artist is in an increasingly powerful voice, with few comparisons in this industry. A WtMM recommendation.