Pop at Palmetto: Breakdown of Lana Del Rey’s “Blue Banisters”

Nicole Martin, Copy Editor

On Oct. 22, singer and songwriter Lana Del Rey released her second album of the year, “Blue Banisters.” Following her previous release, “Chemtrails Over the Country Club,” this album takes a deeper, more honest take into the life of Del Rey, focusing on themes such as sisterhood, family, her connection to Los Angeles, lovesickness and other deeper, more introspective themes. 

The album has a total of 15 songs, with four of the songs released prior to the album drop: “Text Book,” “Blue Banisters,” “Wildflower Wildfire” and “Arcadia.” Furthermore, the songs reflect Del Rey’s classic melodic chord progressions and poetic lyrical genius. The feel of “Blue Banisters” is unique but can be related back to some of the elements found in her previous albums, “Honeymoon” and “Ultraviolence”— two of my personal favorites from Del Rey’s discography.

The album opener “Text Book” addresses Del Rey’s familial issues with having an absent father, and her trying to love her body despite the emotional toll that not having a proper father figure took on her. Throughout the song, she laments her inability to find someone with whom she could have eternal love and protection. The song is complex, much like the rest of the songs on this album. Even with its complexity, the lyrics are phenomenal. As for the song itself, the melody can feel a little bit tired especially in the beginning.

Also the name of the album, the song “Blue Banisters” is a ballad that talks about being in love with someone who promised her the world only to leave a “hole in her heart.” Towards the end of the song, she goes on to tell about how having her sisters in her life has helped her cope and find happiness once again, as expressed in the lyrics: “Now when weather turns to May/All my sisters come to paint/My banisters green/My blue banisters grey.”

Furthermore, songs like “Arcadia” address Del Rey’s love and connection to her city, Los Angeles, whereas “Black Bathing Suit” dives into her pandemic life, referring to the COVID-19 quarantine and simultaneously relating a ‘black bathing suit’ to her weight gain during the lockdown. Del Rey also experiments with her musical style on this song, adding a whole new dimension to the piece. Some of the musical elements on this song can be linked to her fourth album, “Honeymoon.”

“Beautiful” and “If You Lie Down With Me” follow Del Rey’s signature piano progressions. “If You Lie Down With Me” offers a beautiful symphonic melody nearing the end of the song, with the sound of several woodwind instruments being most prominent, resulting in an almost oldies, jazz-like sound. It is also a nod to Del Rey’s third album, “Ultraviolence,” a song that Del Rey had planned to include on that album but removed at the last minute.

“Dealer” and “Violets For Roses” have become two of my personal favorites from this album. “Dealer,” featuring Miles Kane, spotlights a starting guitar part accompanied by the low vocals of Kane, proceeding with the two singing in harmony. In “Violets For Roses,” the song’s title alludes to Del Rey’s poetry book, “Violets Bent Backwards Over the Grass.” In this song, Del Rey sings about walking away from toxicity and finding happiness despite being in a pandemic. 

Some of Del Rey’s unreleased gems also made an appearance on the album as well. “Thunder,” “Cherry Blossom” and “Nectar Of The Gods” made an appearance on the album. The release of these three gems brought excitement to Lana fans and are some of the best songs on the album. “Nectar Of The Gods” offers a calming melody with striking lyrics, whereas “Thunder” also provides a slower, calming melody at the beginning but then picks up on the instrumentals near the middle of the song. In “Cherry Blossom,” Del Rey’s piano playing and vocals are most prominent. It is one of the simpler songs on the album but proves itself as one of the most beautiful, timeless and alluring, featuring slow, dreamy vocals.

The final song of the album, “Sweet Carolina,” co-written by Del Rey’s sister and dad, wraps up the album in a sweet note written in honor of her sister’s new baby. The heavy piano in the back is played by Del Rey’s father as she sings about her love for her family. By far one of Del Rey’s sweetest and most touching songs, “Sweet Carolina” serves as a perfect ending to a very well-done album.

Overall, “Blue Banisters” was a joy to listen to and exceeded expectations after “Chemtrails Over The Country Club.” With elements of Del Rey’s new and old discography present in each of the songs, it gave the album a beautifully simple and unique feel while still staying true to Del Rey’s character.