LANA DEL REY CHEMTRAILS OVER THE COUNTRY CLUB ALBUM REVIEW

Chemtrails Over The Country Club is Lana Del Rey's seventh album, a highly anticipated follow-up to her release of Norman F*cking Rockwell! in 2019. Lana is one of my all-time favorite artists and one that I have always admired for her incredible talent of songwriting. She has made a groundbreaking impact in the music industry in so many ways since her debut album, Born To Die, was released in 2012. Her influence is truly unparalleled when it comes to both the alternative and pop music genres. I have been looking forward to the release of Chemtrails Over the Country Club ever since she officially announced it early last year and was so blown away by the beauty and depth of it when the album was finally released. 

In it's entirety, Chemtrails shows a more personal and mature side of Lana, in a way that she hasn't shown before. While it incorporates the classic sound we know from her, Lana's talent is elevated in such a different way. A lot of her previous work focuses on California as well as romanticizing fame and celebrity. With NFR! she started to show a different side of herself that was much more personal and truly felt like getting a glimpse into who she really is behind all of that. With this new album, she is ready to leave California and live a simpler life than what she has been used to, which is a recurring theme throughout the record. Overall it is a beautiful celebration of the stage of life Lana is in now, and the friends and family that were with her along the way, who are all pictured in the album's cover!

Both NFR! and Chemtrails Over the Country Club were primarily produced and co-written with Jack Antonoff, another one of my favorite musicians that co-created so many of my all-time favorite albums. The music that they have made together has been such a wonderful representation of the new era of Lana's life and art.

The album opens with "White Dress" which is a reflection of her career, looking back to when she was only nineteen.  There is so much innocence in this song as she looks back at the excitement of her music being acknowledged for the first time in Orlando "down at the men in music business conference" and how it made her "feel like a god". The whispery tone in her voice when she sings, "Look how I got this, just singing in the street", gives a feeling of nostalgia for the days when she was only known as Lizzy Grant, unaware of what was to come for her. The way her voice sounds when she sings the chorus is as if she can't believe where she is now.

The song ends with her wondering how her life may have gone differently when she sings, "Cause it made me feel, made me feel like a god, it kinda makes me feel like maybe I was better off".

In a recent interview with Music Week, she shared the unique writing and recording process of this song, "I just stepped up to the microphone and started ad-libbing an entire song, which was only somewhat modified with layered vocals,” she recalls. “That only happens once in a while, and it also started off as kind of a joke [with] me not really knowing what I was saying or singing about. It just brings me back to that good ol’ fashioned feeling of getting lucky and being able to express myself without really having a second thought about needing to edit it. That’s what the sentiment is about, being brought back to a time when things felt the purest."

I know many have been torn about their thoughts on "White Dress", but I absolutely love the story Lana is telling through this song and how different it is from the rest of her music. Some parts of the song are are little bit weird and unexpected when you first listen to it, but it has grown on me so much since I first heard it - it is the perfect introduction to this album!

The album's title track, "Chemtrails Over the Country Club" is the second song and also one of my favorites! I absolutely love the imagery within the name "Chemtrails Over the Country Club" as both a song and album title and the way it represents the eccentric theme and aesthetic of this record. It blends the normalcy of everyday suburban life with the luxuries of country clubs, jewels, and sports cars. I love the production of this song and the feeling of nostalgia I have every time I hear it. It's a simple song lyrically, but there are so many lines that stand out to me as some of my favorites from the entire album. Production-wise, it kind of reminds me of "Venice Bitch" from NFR!, which also follows a lot of similar themes lyrically too. 

A lot of my favorite songs by Lana feel very cinematic both in the way the lyrics are vividly written, as well as the atmospheric production and the way she performs it - I have always been drawn to songs like "Off To The Races" "Ride", and "Salvatore" (to name a few) for this reason. I love the song "Chemtrails Over The Country Club" because it reminds me of all the best aspects of Lana as an artist and songwriter. 

In Interview Magazine, she talked about the meaning behind the song and the reason she chose it as the album's title track; "I hear [the album] Chemtrails and I think “work”, but I also think of my stunning girlfriends, who so much of the album is about, and my beautiful siblings. Chemtrails is the title track because it mentions them all and it mentions wanting so much to be normal and realizing that when you have an overactive, eccentric mind, a record like Chemtrails is just what you’re going to get."

"Tulsa Jesus Freak" is another one of my top favorite songs that Lana has ever released! It incorporates some of the hip-hop elements that were very prominent in her 2017 album Lust for Life, but with an Americana flare. This song was actually originally called "White Hot Forever", which was also the original title of the album as well. 

She referenced Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" several times in the past, but it is a very prominent metaphor throughout this album and in "Tulsa Jesus Freak" especially. She has sung about her admiration for Marilyn Monroe many times, so that connection is very prevalent as well. When she sings the line, "No more candle in the wind", she is showing the way she has changed and grown over the years. 

"Let Me Love You Like a Woman" was the first single she released along with the announcement of the upcoming album in September 2020, and honestly when I first heard it, it wasn't what I hoped it would be. However, in the context of the rest of the album, it fits into the narrative being told and is what I now see to be a nice introduction for what was to come.

It starts off with the line, "I'm from a small town, how 'bout you? I only mention it because I'm ready to leave LA," which is very telling of the stage of life she is in right now and how she is ready to move on from the city to lead a simpler life. Los Angeles has been such a prominent subject in her music since the early days of her career, so it really is the end of an era for her to be ready to move on from that.

In the next song, "Wild at Heart", she goes more in depth about her decision to leave Los Angeles when she sings, "I left Calabasas, escaped all the ashes, ran into the dark, and it made me wild, wild at heart." She continues by singing, "The cameras have flashes, they cause the car crashes, but I'm not a star." This line again references the alternate version of Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" in relation to Princess Diana's tragic death in 1997. She now sees how dark fame can be and no longer wants to be a part of it in the way she once did. 

The dark side of fame that she experienced is also the subject of the sixth song on the album, "Dark But Just a Game". In an interview with MOJO, she went into detail about being inspired to write this song when she, Jack Antonoff and St. Vincent went to a party together; "Something happened...kind of a situation like, never meet your idols. And I just thought, 'It's so interesting that the best musicians end up in such terrible places," she said. "I thought to myself, 'I'm going to try my best not to change because I love who I am.' I said, "Jack, it's dark." And he said, "well, it's dark - but I mean, it's just a game." 

"It's dark but just a game, that's what he would say to me," is the first line of the song that looks back on what Jack told her that night. "The faces aren't the same, but their stories all end tragically...and that's the price of fame, a tale as old as time you'd be," are the next lines that further shows how much too often those in the limelight fall victim into tragic endings.

"Wе keep changing all the time, the bеst ones lost their minds, so I'm not gonna change, I'll stay the same," Lana sings in the chorus, "no rose left on the vines, don't even want what's mine, much less the fame, it's dark, but just a game."

Just like "Tulsa Jesus Freak", the production reminds me of the musical style of Lust For Life, which fittingly matches up thematically within the subjects of both pieces of work. This has become one of my favorite songs not only from this album, but from her entire discography. From the very first time I listened to Chemtrails, "Dark But Just a Game" stood out to me as an immediate favorite from the record and keeps getting better with each listen.

The next song, "Not All Who Wander Are Lost", is a beautiful love song that also reminisces of her time on the road touring. I love that the theme of this song also ties into "Wild at Heart" too. The lyrics are so poetically written and one of the best vocal performances on the album.

"Yosemite" is another one of my top favorite songs that Lana has ever released. It was originally supposed to be on her album Lust for Life in 2017, but ultimately didn't make the track list. The song was co-written and produced by Rick Nowels, who she collaborated with heavily since the Paradise EP was released in 2012. She told Beats 1 Radio that the reason the song was initially scrapped was because the subject of the song was, "too happy, on a point where I'm not there.”

Yet again, she uses the "Candle in the Wind" metaphor when she sings, "You make me feel like I'm invincible, just like I wanted, no more candle in the wind, it's not like I'm invisible, not like before when I was burning at both ends."

A repeated line throughout the song is "we did it for the right reasons," which holds a different meaning each time she sings it. Lana sings of finding true love, not only in the romantic sense, but within her friendships and within her art. Vocally, this is some of the best she has ever sounded, it has such an ethereal melody to it.

In an interview with Stevie Nicks for V Magazine in 2017, she talked about the many meanings this song holds for her; "That’s been the theme of my record: being in touch with what it takes to do things for the right reasons. All the actions that you need to take beyond just the words and all the decisions that I knew I wanted to make this year. And that song is special because it’s really a song about surrounding yourself with people who put their art and love first, who do it for the right reasons, not just for the money."

She closes off the song with "When I was young 'til eternity, I'll do it for the right reasons, withstanding all the time, changes, and seasons," representing the pure intentions she has for the art she creates.

I love that she finally released "Yosemite", because it truly is such a gem in her discography and is a beautiful addition to Chemtrails. I can only imagine how incredible some of her other unreleased songs must be!

"Breaking Up Slowly" features Nikki Lane and is her song with the strongest country influence yet. I'm not familiar with Nikki's music, but I loved her voice in this song and will be listening to more of her work soon! This song was written about the late country artist Tammy Wynette and her tumultuous relationship with her ex-husband and fellow country artist George Jones.

Nikki sings the first half of the song on her own, I particularly love her second verse; "Are these my good years or do I have none? Are there really good years for everyone? I don't wanna live with a life of regret, I don't wanna end up like Tammy Wynette" Lana doesn't have a solo verse until towards the end of the song, where she seemingly sings from the perspective of Tammy Wynette, "Georgе got arrested out on the lawn, we might be breakin' up after this song, will he still love me long after I'm gone? Or did he see it comin' all along?"

It's very different than the rest of her music, but I love the way Lana and Nikki's voices compliment each other and the story they're telling through it. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Nikki Lane confirmed that she and Lana wrote a country album together that may eventually get released. It would be quite a departure from her usual sound, but I'm looking forward to hearing it one day! 


"Dance Till We Die" pays homage to Joan Baez, Stevie Nicks, Courtney Love, and Joni Mitchell, by singing "I'm coverin' Joni and I'm dancin' with Joan, Stevie is callin' on the telephone, Court almost burned down my home, But God, it feels good not to be alone." She's reflecting throughout the song on how these musicians are people that she once idolized but now considers to be close friends. 

The rest of the song tells such a fun story about the time she and Joan Baez went out in San Francisco's Mission District together after one of her concerts; "She showed me and my sister up until 2am," Lana recalls. "I said to her guitar player Dirk Powell, who's been with her for 30 years, 'She just doesn't stop dancing!'...And he said, 'She's not going to stop dancing until she dies.'" That quote was incorporated into the song's chorus when she sings, "And we won't say when, we won't ask why, we won't stop dancin' 'til we die, we'll keep walkin' on the sunny side, and we won't stop dancin' 'til we die". 

I absolutely love the bridge of the song, one of the highlights of the entire album is when she sings, "I went down to Woodside, I left Berkeley, out of city, out of mind, killin' it, talkin' shit, Joan said she was gonna quit, tearin' it up at the Afro-Caribbean two-step". I can just imagine how great this song would be performed live one day, but especially that specific part!

A lyric that also caught my attention is, "Clementine's not just a fruit, it's my daughter's chosen name." I noticed a lot of connections between this album and her 2020 poetry collection, "Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass", but this is the most notable because the book cover actually has a painting of clementines on it. Her poetry collection is a really great companion piece to this album, especially since they were both written, I assume, in the same time-frame. If you are already a fan of her songwriting, her poetry is a beautiful extension to what she shares through her music. 

"For Free" is the album's closing track and a cover of Joni Mitchell's classic song from her album Ladies of the Canyon in 1970. She has been heavily inspired by Joni throughout her career, and the message of this song really fits into the theme of Chemtrails, so this was a perfect way to end the album. For much of the album, Lana is contemplating fame, reevaluating her priorities and reflecting on her career in an honest way. 

Lana's cover also features Zella Day and Weyes Blood, both of whom performed this song many times with her on tour in 2019. I'm not familiar with Weyes Blood's music, but I recently discovered Zella Day and have had her latest EP on repeat all last year! Lana has covered many classic American songs through the years, but "For Free" is a new favorite of mine!

In the song, Joni is at a street corner when she sees a man playing the clarinet across the street. No one even notices him, so she then thinks about the way so many pay a lot of money to see her perform when she sings, "Now me, I play for fortunes, and those velvet curtain calls", when the street musician who performs for free is just as talented and worthy of that same attention. The moment in time that this song was written about is very brief, but is such an interesting commentary on the music industry as a whole, as well as the way talent is perceived. Even though this song was written more than 50 years ago, the story that Joni is telling still holds just as much relevance as it did in 1970. Especially in the age of social media where everyone is famous for 15 minutes, as Andy Warhol would say, it's important to keep in mind that fame and talent aren't always synonymous. 


Overall, I have loved hearing the evolution of Lana's artistry within this album and the way she has opened up in a way like never before through her songwriting. Chemtrails Over The Country Club is such an incredible album with so much depth and meaning behind each song. As always, I'm looking forward to what comes next for Lana! 

Thanks for reading! I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below! 

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