Miss America has out done herself her poetry is incredibly sincere, incredibly intimate her and Jack Antoff once again, are a blissful match made in heaven.
Born To Die, Paradise, Ultraviolence, Honeymoon, Lust For Life, Norman F****** Rockwell and now Violet. It’s Lana Del Rey’s world and we’re just living in it.
Lana Del Rey raised me from a young age. She was a good mother and her melancholy tone and poetic lyrics, that surrounded the taboo themes of the older man, tragic romance and obscure female empowerment, moulded me into the woman I am today. Her thoughts have always been intimate and something that captured me in my teen years; whether or not I should’ve been listening to her at twelve years old is another matter. Nevertheless, her thoughts and songwriting are always incredibly emotive, raw, whimsical and nothing short of kaleidoscopic. Her recent works Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass is a collection of poems that Del Rey has been working on for the past few years. Born in New York as Elizabeth Woolridge-Grant, Lana had always had a fascination with culture and the feeling she was destined for something larger than life itself. She grew up in love with the idea of poetry and the Americana era, particularly 50s, 60s and 70s.
An Instagram post titled ‘Question for the Culture’ posted back in May, caused an uproar amongst fans and saw Del Rey criticised by many for romanticising and glamourising the idea of abuse. Yet Lana stood firmly by her opinions and whilst she apologised for any unintentional offence, she continued writing poetry and providing a platform for her past emotional abuse and toxic dysfunctional relationships. The first glimpse of Lana’s infatuation with poetry was through the TS Eliot poem ‘Burnt Norton’ which acted as an interlude track on her 2015 album Honeymoon. Since then, original poems by Del Rey have been appearing all over her social media throwing die hard fans into a frenzy as they speculated the idea of getting a spoken word/poetry record.
Finally, after many set-backs, mostly due to a home-invasion at Del Rey’s home, the poetry book was released as an audiobook on July 28th 2020. Now, this is Lana Del Rey, so it was no surprise that she didn’t stop at just an audiobook. Violet was released in hardback on September 29th, with a scheduled release in October of cassette and vinyl (both white, part of the limited edition collection).
The opening track ‘LA Who Am I To Love You’ was released on Spotify as a single but the rest of the book remains absent from the streaming platform. ‘LA Who Am I…’ is Lana professing her devotion to Los Angeles and how she finds comfort in the city. ‘I left my city for San Francisco’ she confesses over Jack Antoff’s lilting piano, ‘Took a free ride off a billionaires jet/LA, I’m from nowhere/Who am I to love you?’ This establishes the two main themes in the poem, Lana’s honest love for LA and the artificial nature of LA. Her struggle throughout the poem to call LA her home links to the presence of falsehood which was promoted and harked upon by critics in her early career. Robert Grant, Lana’s father is a prestigious man and well-known billionaire in and around New York, which gave the critics all they needed to name Lana a ‘project’ with rumours of her father fuelling her career made straight off the bat. Yet Lana confesses that she walked through her early life as an orphan addressing the critics ‘They say I came from money and I didn’t/And I didn’t even have love and it’s unfair.’ It’s a poem about displacement, feeling unsettled, failed relationships (one of those being her relationship with her mother) and the longing to be loved in a place of security and wealth.
The rest of the poems are ‘eclectic and honest, they’re not trying to be anything else other than what they are’ Del Rey claimed in an Instagram post. It sees her explore topics such as romance, love, trust, happiness, climate change and loss. Every poem is a perfect musing of an oversight from the world of Lana Del Rey. She pulls off these intimate and personal observations seamlessly, somehow making them not just her own experiences and oversights, but your own. She appeals to the masses in a way the media does everyday, but her way is a more sophisticated and tragic approach to the promise of love and happiness. There’s an old battered boyfriend box full of receipts and cinema ticket stubs that highlight her own passages and provide glimpses of her long lost loves and the planting of an orchid every time a relationship dies. The effects of each are a cosy comforting intimacy, as if Lana were reading you a bedtime story (something I can only dream of). Even ‘Bare Feet on Linoleum’ a poem about Syvlia Plath, a crossover with Norman F****** Rockwell, Del Rey’s 2019 album, features discordant chaotic layers of string courtesy of Del Rey’s producer partner Jack Antoff. The tone-setting is just as important to the ‘Violet…’ experience as the words spoken by Lana herself; too much or too little would throw the balance off but this is just right. It’s a masterpiece, there’s no other way to say it.
Lana Del Rey will be heard. Despite her ruthless criticism in her early career she has shown that the only way forward is forward motion, that we shouldn’t let obstacles like criticism slow down the creative forces that drive us. Leading by this example she continues to inspire artists of the pop genre. Her vocal styling, aesthetics and lyrics have been echoed and repurposed in every corner of music since she found fame in 2011. Think about her work what you will, she may be dramatic and frequently lapse into verbose descriptiveness her word play flowery and overcooked, yet she’s simply one of the best singer songwriters of our generation. Nobody writes like her and others who try to imitate her fail to do it with same levels of glamour, whimsicality and beauty as Miss Del Rey.