Why does someone listen to music? To have moments of escapism in their lives but also to have space to explore feelings and emotions, and to get something out of the lyrics that apply to them and their own life. Music is there for people to enjoy, and to learn something about themselves and about the artists they are listening to. I liken the effect good music has on you, to the action of being split open, thereby allowing the light to get in.
Lana Del Rey’s music does all of the above. It gives the listener a means of escape. Her music is an indulgence; a means to go back in time to an era of glamour and romance, and see your emotions captured in a very cinematic and luscious way. Del Rey’s music also gives the listener permission to explore parts of themselves, the darker and rawer parts that we as individuals don’t tend to reveal to other people or even to ourselves.
Falling for the bad guys, choosing to stay in a destructive relationship, wanting to devote yourself to another person, feeling free and uninhibited but also feeling utterly crazy too, resigning yourself to heartbreak but also sort of enjoying it as well, wanting to be unapologetically physical with another person. All these are aspects of ourselves that we keep in the dark but which Del Rey brings into the light albeit only for a length of an album, but doing so gives us safe place to feel less alone and less weird.
Honeymoon, is Lana Del Rey’s fourth album, produced by Rick Nowels, Kieron Menzies and Del Rey herself. A fusion of mellow and trippy jazz, cinematic scores, rock, hip-hop and pop. Del Rey is a bit of an enigma; she doesn’t follow her contemporaries, and nothing she’s done from Born To Die to Ultraviolence to Honeymoon is anything like what’s currently out there on the musical landscape. The songs are sonically unique; her voice is of another era; and the lyrics address topics that aren’t safe.
On the song ‘The Blackest Day’, Del Rey sings about being heartbroken and not really wanting to move on, leading her to “look for love in all the wrong places.”
“Because I’m going deeper and deeper/ Harder and harder/ Getting darker and darker/ Looking for love in all the wrong places.”
‘Religion’ is another song that though is void of self-destructiveness, still talks about love in a way that we are told as adults to avoid – that all encompassing and all consuming love. Del Rey however, sings about it in the most peaceful and defiant way, that most of us would never be able to muster.
“You’re my religion/ You’re how I’m living/ When all my friends say I should take some space/Well, I can’t envision that for a minute/ When I’m down on my knees you’re how I pray.”
Each song on the record could quite easily be its’ own piece of cinema. The vast sonic landscapes that Del Rey is so apt at creating, evoke a sense of Old America, of Old Hollywood, allowing you to recall times where the musical and cinematic landmarks were Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone, and their ilk.
Del Rey references The Eagles well known album Hotel California in her song ‘God Knows I Tried’, and Bob Dylan’s song ‘Lay Lady Lay’ on the track ‘Religion. Even the artwork that accompanies the album conjures up that sense of nostalgia and longing for days gone by; palm trees, LA skies, American flags, and balconies teeming with roses.
On the title track of the album, Del Rey evokes the cinematic quality that she does so well, with luscious strings and gradual build of her vocals. The instrumentation gives a James Bond-esque/film noir quality to the song, particularly in the opening bars. The same can be said for ‘Salvatore’, which gives you the feel of travelling round Italy in the summer during the 1960’s, conjuring up images of ice cream, holiday romances and evening strolls in the piazza.
“Catch me if you can working on my tan/Salvatore/ Dying by the hand of a foreign man happily/ Calling out my name in the summer rain/ Ciao amore.”
‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’, the song made famous by Nina Simone, brings Honeymoon to a close, summing up Del Rey’s ever-present feeling of being misunderstood, of her feelings being misrepresented, and of her inner unrest.
“You know sometimes baby I’m so carefree/ With a joy that’s hard to hide/ And then sometimes again, it seems all I have is worry/ And then you’re bound to see my other side.”
A wise soul once said, “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable”, something I believe Del Rey does in all her music; she sings from a place of truth even if it is uncomfortable for those who choose to listen.