Review: Lana Del Rey – ‘Season of the Witch’

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Haunting

Summer is over and Lana has ushered in Halloween early with a fantastic rendition of Donovan's classic. 

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Lana Del Rey has a great reputation for providing films with memorable soundtrack stand-outs, like ‘Young and Beautiful’ for The Great Gatsby and ‘Once Upon a Dream’ for Maleficent. This case is no different, as she covers Donovan’s 1986 hit of the same name for the Guillermo Del Toro produced Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, directed by André Øvredal.

My heart skipped a beat when I found out she was covering this song since I was a fan of it beforehand; I had a hunch that the psychedelic-rock track would be easily translated by Lana into something authentically herself and retaining the essence of the original. Lana doubles down on the supernatural themes of the song by layering her haunting vocals and some constructive instrumentation which holds her voice high. Although the memorable spooky guitar picking is less prominent in her cover, which I do miss.

Without the prominent guitar, the song becomes more of an atmospheric tour-de-haunted-house with Lana’s siren voice and soft, deliberate instrumentation, including what I suspect may be a theremin, which gives the song a charming, cartoonish supernatural vibe. Obviously, Lana lavishes the opportunity to embrace the occult and assume her true identity as a witch, unlike Donovan who revels in fear of the ominous supernatural in the original. Lana drops one of Donovan’s verses in favour of a longer, more repetitive bridge, chanting “Said it must be the season, must be the season, must be the season (Witch)”, making the listener bear witness to a coven celebration. While I do miss the heavy guitar build-up of the original, I appreciate Lana’s take on it, instead opting for a more ethereal exit out of the song which leaves the listener haunted with her alluring voice and Jack Antonoff’s instrumentals hushing us out.

As with ‘Doin’ Time’, Lana reminds us of the past through a nostalgic cover, without straying too far from the source, but still providing a wholly Lana take on it. Having Lana cover Donovan was a brilliant idea on Del Toro’s part, as he correctly predicted that “she would use her alchemy to transform it”. While she’s not casting a spell on Donald Trump this year, she’s instead blessing her fans with an array of songs in the lead up to her new album. While this isn’t even featured on the album, it’s a great single and welcome addition to Lana’s discography, maintaining her reputation for contributing some gorgeous soundtracks to films.

Season of the Witch’ is available now via Universal Music Group. Norman Fucking Rockwell is due to be released on 30th August 2019.

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Final year film student writing often about music.

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