Del Ray embracing self on ‘Blue Banisters’


Esther Kim

Singer and songwriter Lana Del Rey released her latest album, Blue Banisters, on Oct. 22. The Sidekick staff writer Shrayes Gunna writes about how the album relays her embrace of her independence and femininity through the beautiful crafting of lyrics.

Shrayes Gunna, Staff Writer

She once needed a man. She once needed a support system; someone to preserve the state of stability she cherished. But with a sudden rise to stardom, she soon embraced the majesty behind independence, the feminine and the women that ground her. Her latest album Blue Banisters is a subtle yet sovereign thank you to “all [her] sisters [that] come to paint [her] banisters green and grey.” 

The 15-track record is a piercing embrace of Lana Del Ray’s psyche, a prominent eighth album that fails to sacrifice the ethereal tone she possesses and haunting lyrics she pens.

Del Ray has carried herself as an enigma in the industry: always in the clutches of the media, close enough for public ridicule but far from personal with often distant lyrics that narrate imaginary stories. However, on the autobiographical album, Del Ray delivers personal musings on pandemic living: a glimpse into her world.

She sets the record straight on the several news stories that dissected Del Ray’s every move from questioning her credence in feminism to condemning her stance on masks. To the media, whom she believes failed to deliver the truth, she pleads on “Wildflower Wildflower,” “here’s the deal / cause I know you wanna talk about it” repeating that admission of her honest and authentic truth that serves as the foundation of the album: honesty and embrace. 

On the album opener “Textbook,” a pivotal ballad in her discography, Del Ray embraces the gap in her identity left by her father’s abandonment and the memories of the substantial men in her life that left her. The track served as one of the three lead singles and outlined the sentiments of feeling lost or insufficient as she sings to the men of her past “let’s rewrite history, I’ll do this dance with you / You know I’m not that girl, you know I’ll never be.” 

Del Ray’s lyrics have always echoed an impassioned tone, juxtaposing her dry and airy delivery, but throughout Blue Banisters they underscore the undertones of embracing the raw and arduous experiences she was forced to tolerate. 

The lyrics she pens in “Textbook” quickly transform into vivid images of a sweet, quaint Oklahoma scene on the title track “Blue Banisters” where her lover makes his perennial return—her expression of escapism in a state of isolation. The themes of embrace and independence are reintroduced through her reflection on her outlandish belief that she needed a man to feel whole, a “hole that’s in [her] heart that all [her] women try and heal.”

Though both tracks are introspective in a metaphorical nature, Del Ray quickly delves into the crux of her distress on “Black Bathing Suit,” a collection of polaroids of the sights of quarantine that she lists off to the sound of a melancholic, grand piano like Target parking lots and “Hey” on Zoom.  Her soft voice glides along the huskiness of the piano,  as she reflects on her growth and in a lonely period, proclaiming her independence.

Del Ray extends melancholic piano notes in “Beautiful,” which begins with a lush 22 second composition. “Beautiful” is a high note on an already soaring project, where she reclaims her sadness and sort-of “blue period”—a play on Picasso’s revered works—as a mechanism for beauty. It is on this track that, vocally, Del Ray shines among other stars with light production, leaving space for her voice to resolve. 

She continues with poignant lyricism that resonates with the listener as she leverages the universality of her own insecurities and manifestations of doubt, expressing “if I could be more like you, I would / But I can’t and I’m glad about that.” 

Del Ray also reproduced some of her unreleased songs from past eras for Blue Banisters with one track standing out: “Dealer.” It features uncredited vocals sung by Miles Kane, whose warm rich tone contrasts Del Ray’s in a spellbinding manner. Kane opens the song reflecting on Del Ray’s pleas for the public, media and men to leave her alone, singing “please don’t try to find me through my dealer / he won’t pick up the phone.” The lyrics are a satirical retort to the lengths that people have gone through to disillusion Del Ray or discredit her.

She further displays a new aspect of her voice on the track: bellowing screams that make the listener’s stomach churn and send chills up their spine. There is something haunting about Del Ray’s voice, and in calamitous wails it truly shines when she sings “I don’t want to live.” 

On Blue Banisters, Del Ray’s voice, lyrics and reflective attitude redefine the public image imposed upon her. She’s far more substantial, brilliant and capable than given credit for, but as she outlines on the project, she no longer needs validation to keep her banisters blue, green or grey.

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