Lana del Rey:
Chemtrails over the Country Club
Lana del Rey graces listeners with her seventh studio album, Chemtrails over the Country Club.
The album trades in the grandiose orchestral scores in favor of a rawer, more intimate listening experience that lets Lana’s voice shine. Her signature glitzy look at Americana has become a more jaded and weathered reflection. Lana still casts recurring characters such as stardom, California, pink champagne, and a romance-gone-south attributing to many sleepless nights. Lana looks back at her previous tropes with an older jaded perspective. Her image as a WASP shrouded herself with American kitsch pointing out the contrast between the Americana of white picket fences and the nation’s uneasy dark side.
The opening track, “White Dress”, depicts the 19-year-old Del Rey in a tight uniform, working as a waitress dreaming of what is to come. The melody is at the edge of her soprano range and offers an emotionality and timbre missing in other albums. At the other end of the album is a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “For Free”, in which the grande dame of the song pondered how a busker (a street musician) can play “real good, for free” to so little acclaim, while Mitchell herself is raking it in as a celebrity. These songs bookend the album and complete a full arc of the mindset of someone who achieves fame to some degree. Lana frequently mulls over the business of success, her loneliness and her comradeship. This album has more than one story to tell as Lana also ponders the relative merits of change and constancy, of love and loneliness, all with intensely discreet instrumentation.
The album’s cover art finds Del Rey surrounded by her sister and a bevy of female friends, all glamorous and, pointedly, of many skin tones. Del Rey has come under fire for some ill-judged comments online about the output of women of colour, which she maintains were misunderstood. This new chapter in Lana’s music reveals a more vulnerable and reflective artist who manages to avoid sentimentality in her nostalgic reflections of where she thought her life would take her and the reality of where she is.