It’s the question that has been on everyone’s mind. Lana Del Rey’s newly-released ninth studio album “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” masterfully takes the listener on a journey through that tunnel under Ocean Blvd, with moments of endearing personalization through lyrics and the soaring of memorable sounds from one song to the next.
Composed of 16 new tracks, the album contains several collaborations ranging from Jack Antonoff, SYML, Jon Batiste and Tommy Genesis, the most she has ever had on an album. Bringing in each artist from different genres from folk to R&B allows for a more diverse, memorable album.
Stylistically, the album has similar aspects as her sixth album, “Norman F**king Rockwell!,” especially since she brings back “Venice B*tch” on the last song of the album, “Taco Truck x VB” and interpolates other songs on “NFR!” into her new ones. But going back to that particular style of her own music isn’t necessarily to reuse but to reimagine her own work, showing an evolution in progress while revisiting sounds that are her most loved.
“Fingertips,” which also contains an interpolation of “Bartender” from “NFR!” is one of her most poignant songs to date. Featuring her stream-of-consciousness as the song’s lyrics in mezzo soprano vocals, it details several traumas that Del Rey has been through. Like many other songs off the album, the topic of family plays a significant part in this song, even mentioning the aspect of motherhood which insinuates that Del Rey wants to be one in the future.
“Grandfather please stand on the shoulders of my father while he’s deep-sea fishing” has gotten odd looks because of its long title, but looking past it you find a beautifully lyrical song where she sings about her authenticity. She sings “I’m folk, I’m jazz, I’m blue, I’m green / Regrettably, also a white woman / But I have good intentions even if I’m one of the last ones.” Apart from being genuine, she also inserts the symbolism of a butterfly, which she has done before on “NFR!.” Her raised vocals singing, “God if you’re near me, send me three white butterflies” is one of the most unforgettable moments off the album.
Not only does she revisit her own songs, Del Rey interpolates other artist’s songs, including her own, and does it in a way that is honorable yet still exhibits her own personal touch and meaning. The album’s title track contains Harry Nilsson’s “Don’t Forget Me,” which she uses as an influence for the back tracking. Doing so further encapsulates her song’s theme of loneliness.
Dedicated to collaborator Jack Antonoff's fiance, actress Margaret Qualley, comes the elegant love song “Margaret.” Lana opens the song saying, “This is a simple song.” But the most memorable and moving lyrics derive from the chorus where both Del Rey and Antonoff sing “When you know, you know,” in the terms of knowing if someone is the one.
So many tracks off the album stand out in their own ways. “Let The Light In” features Father John Misty and brings some heartfelt folk onto the album while “Peppers” features Tommy Genesis and adds some unexpected trap beats towards the end of the album. Each track is special in its own way, contributing to the exemplary versatile success of this album.
The two interludes, though exceedingly long, are still interesting coming from the queen of interludes. One from pastor Judah Smith, which has received controversy due to his anti-choice and anti-LGBTQIA+ thoughts, whose sermon touches on several arching themes on the album including love, lust and family. It ends on the words, “I used to think my preaching was mostly about you / I’ve discovered my preaching is mostly about me,” which is meant to insinuate Del Rey’s connection to those words and her other songs.
The other interlude features Jon Batiste, who is featured on the song prior, “Candy Necklace.” Instead of a sermon, you get a mostly instrumental interlude where it seems Batiste is playing around on the piano and Del Rey is beautifully harmonizing alongside it.
Del Rey always manages to get more personal with each album she puts out, with this one being the one that emotionally opens her up the most. Singing out her traumas and struggles while her sound remains distinct and Americana, the album still remains true to who she is, while at the same time, improving her own work. All in all, this 16-track album, full of ballads and bops, is intended to be listened to while taking a long, heartfelt and open-windowed drive through that tunnel under Ocean Blvd.