Lana Del Rey
Norman F***ing Rockwell!
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Lana Del Rey is one of those people who never fails to fascinate. Her voice commands a sort of captivation that is rarely seen today, not to mention the emotion firmly encased in all that mysterious allure. Visually speaking, she sits somewhere between the glamour and fatalism of film noir and a modern day Nancy Sinatra, yet manages to embody a homage to the ‘60s, that although not new, is quintessentially hers. You see, Lana Del Rey is a multitude of contradictions, as we all are. The only difference is she isn’t afraid to confront them, if anything she embraces them and maybe even encourages them.
Since 2012’s Born To Die burst on the scene, Lana Del Rey has been firmly on everyone’s lips. Whether you like her music or not, you can’t deny the fact that she crafts incredible, provocative songs. Her music, should you try to interpret it, can trigger the deepest of emotions or may even leave you confused. Either way, you will be forced into an area that all too often straddles that fine line of love or hate. It has little to do with the singer herself, but more to do with the emotion her music has evoked in you, awakened even.
Norman F***ing Rockwell! is no different. In fact, the overall consensus is that the album presents some of Del Rey’s finest songs to date, and it is a sentiment that I will also echo here. From the album’s visually stunning lead single “Mariners Apartment Complex” to the recently released and delicious trip hop cover of Sublime’s “Doin’ Time” complete with homage to the ‘50s cult classic Attack of The 50 Foot Woman, Del Rey never fails to deliver.
There is something incredibly easy about this album, a sense of maturity in every aspect. As the keys on the piano gently introduce the album’s opening track and namesake, “Norman F***ing Rockwell!” with its beautifully haunting vocals and then moves all the way through to the powerful and emotional “Hope Is A Dangerous Thing For A Woman Like Me To Have – But I Have It” (celebrity photographer Slim Aarons & poet/author Sylvia Plath both receive mentions), it has been hard for me not to get lost in each of the album’s fourteen tracks. Incredibly hard, to be brutally honest.
Del Rey co-wrote all thirteen original tracks along with Jack Antonoff (Bleachers, Fun) and longtime collaborator, the legendary Rick Nowels, who had much less input on this album relative to Del Rey’s last four albums. The production on this album is superb, albeit slightly different, with this excellence in production being highlighted on tracks like the mortality ridden “F*** it, I Love You,” a slightly more uptempo track given its somber subject matter and according to Del Rey, the last track to make it onto the album.
So much has been written about Del Rey, her music and where she sits culturally or even who she references culturally. Whilst I acknowledge these things and in my own unique way, pay respect to her references, I am here to write about her music and what I, as a listener feel, hear and yes, even see. I could go on some psychobabble tangent about her right to reference feminist and cultural icons, but in reality, she has just as much right to those things as we all do. All. Of. Us. If anything, she is introducing important cultural figures to a generation that has probably never even heard of said folk, but now possess a newfound curiosity. Knowledge, huh?
What this album most definitely is, is a carefully created and curated piece of musical history. An album that speaks to those eager to listen and yes, an album comprised of many dimensions and layers. You see, Lana Del Rey ultimately is just that: Lana Del Rey. I see no one particular persona at all, rather I see the many layers and complexities of an artist exploring the trials and tribulations that many of us go through, something that she the artist and let’s not forget, human being, is just putting out there for all to hear. Again, something that most of us will never do.
Norman F***ing Rockwell!, brilliant.
Notable Tracks: “Doin’ Time” | "F*** It, I Love You" | “The Greatest” | "Hope Is A Dangerous Thing For A Woman Like Me To Have – But I Have It"