An eclectic collection of intimate compositions
Lana Del Rey’s Blue Banisters traverses the American heartland, the Los Angeles skyline and her own backyard. The broad canvas is ripe for Del Rey’s wispy voice. She weaves stories of heartbreak with hope, longing and loss. Blue Banisters is expansive, but by using the same bag of vocal tricks and similar song structure, Del Rey sounds restrained. The release is enjoyable but treads ground she has already explored. However, she does take chances throughout as the album’s highlights feature some measure of experimentation for the singer-songwriter.
“Text Book,” the opening track, finds Del Rey delving into a relationship with an older man that reminds her of her father. The slow tempo draws people in. Her vocal is set against a backdrop of sparse instrumentation. Her voice is the star of the show and it stands out in the mix. The first half of the album is delicate sounding. As if Del Rey is dancing on a glass table that could shatter at any second. Stand-out moments from other tracks include a bass drop with spaghetti western-inspired horns on “Interlude – The Trio,” and excellent piano work on “Blue Banisters,” “Black Bathing Suit” and “Arcadia.”
The second half of Blue Banisters introduces some bombast to the proceedings, starting with “Dealer” and “Thunder.” Both tracks showcase Del Rey’s strengths as a songwriter. “Wildflower Wildfire” is a show-stopping, spine-tingling track. Del Rey holds nothing back. The controlled power of her voice conveys every emotion with depth. The lyrics are simple but effective. The drums are slightly distorted, giving “Wildflower Wildfire” a raw immediacy. This song feels like the emotional climax of the record. She takes a big swing, and it pays off, but the track feels like the grand finale.
Instead, Blue Banisters drags out for another four songs. The remainder of the tracks do not reach the album’s previous heights. In fact, Del Rey returns to the themes and style she established at the beginning. The album’s final stretch is well-crafted, but it lacks the heavy gut-punch Del Rey has proven herself more than capable of.
Overall, Blue Banisters reveals the multiple layers of Lana Del Rey’s personality. Despite its flaws, the album is a solid addition to the singer’s discography.