Review, Music, Arts

Lana Del Rey Muses Over Life Before Fame


Lana Del Rey follows up her outstandingly successful Norman F—king Rockwell! with another luminous album, Chemtrails Over The Country Club. Her seventh album was released Friday by Interscope Records and Polydor Records. 

Del Rey is certainly an icon in the realm of tragic romance with her vintage sound and poetic lyrics. She has developed her unique identity as a contemporary songwriter—one might compare her to a modern-day Joan Baez. She embodies the aesthetic of the ’60s and ’70s both in sound and style. 

Despite being one of the top artists in the music industry over the decade and receiving five Grammy nominations as well as a Golden Globe nomination, Del Rey has made it a point to maintain a relatively low profile. She prefers to share her story and soul through her music rather than the Hollywood press. 

Chemtrails Over the Country Club channels the 35-year-old at her most honest and reflective, as her heart aches over the troubles of fame and romance. With sensational storytelling, the album depicts her wandering through various locations across the country, from Los Angeles to rural Midwest America. It has a folksy spirit that encompasses a sense of classic Americana culture. 

Del Rey works again with Jack Antonoff, who produced Norman F—king Rockwell! He arranged the album with his familiar musical style including backing tracks featuring  acoustic guitar and piano. 

The album opens with the nostalgic piano ballad “White Dress” where Del Rey recalls her job as a waitress prior to finding fame. She yearns for the time before she was famous, writing “It kinda makes me feel, like maybe I was better off.” There was a freedom to not always being in the public eye for Del Rey. “I felt free ʼcause I was only 19,” she sings. She admits she would go back to this time of innocence if she could do it all again. 

“Chemtrails Over The Country Club” is equally nostalgic and idyllic. Previously released in January, it’s a song that her listeners have felt a particular connection to because it is reminiscent of a childhood many may have experienced. She recalls doing the most simple tasks: washing her hair, doing laundry, watching late-night TV, and laying out watching the chemtrails in the sky in suburbia. These illustrate the beauty of the mundane—a normalcy that is difficult to find when one achieves the fame Del Rey has.  

“Dark But Just A Game” also centers around the idea of returning to simplicity and innocence before life under the spotlight, highlighting some of the tragic stories of those who suffered the cost of fame. Del Rey has learned from those who came before and promises herself and the world that “I’m not gonna change / I’ll stay the same.”

“Tulsa Jesus Freak” incorporates some elements of hip-hop and autotune, while “Let Me Love You Like A Woman,” another previous release, is a piano ballad with jazz influences. 

“Wild At Heart” is a classic Del Rey love song. She references Princess Diana when she sings about cameras that have flashes causing car crashes. She admits, “Time after time, I think about leaving / But you know that I never do just ’cause you / keep me believin.” She states that anyone who truly loves her will also love her wild heart. 

“Not All Who Wander Are Lost” and “Yosemite” have more of a folksy nature. They reveal her impulses to hit the road and reinvent herself in a quest for freedom and a longing to feel a sense of wanderlust. 

“Breaking Up Slowly” is her duet with Nikki Lane, a popular name in the realm of alternative country. Inspired by the tragic romance between George Jones and country singer-songwriter Tammy Wynette, they sing, “I don’t wanna live with a life of regret / I don’t wanna end up like Tammy Wynette.”

“Dance Till We Die” pays tribute to singers Joni Mitchell and Stevie Nicks—two of the artists she idolizes. Chemtrails Over The Country Club proves Del Rey is clearly at the peak of her career and she could soon reach a similar legendary status, if she hasn’t already. 

She has the great privilege of covering Joni Mitchell alongside Zella Day and Weyes Blood with their rendition of “For Free” to close the album. Following similar themes as her previous songs, this one is a poignant take on the hollowness of fame. 

Del Rey is at her most honest in this album, as she explores her artistry and reveals her striking observations about the American life. It transports listeners back to their childhood, looking for shapes in the clouds and having all the freedom that comes with being young and not knowing what your future will hold. 

Photo Courtesy of Interscope Records

March 21, 2021