From Born To Die to Lust For Life

Singer Lana Del Rey collaborates with Stevie Nicks and Sean Lennon on her new album, Lust For Life.
Singer Lana Del Rey collaborates with Stevie Nicks and Sean Lennon on her new album, Lust For Life.PHOTO: NYTIMES

Lana Del Rey releases her fourth album, Lust For Life, after five years and speaks out on politics

NEW YORK • Has a ray of sunshine - maybe several rays - broken through the gloom of Lana Del Rey's world that she had inhabited in previous albums?

She was Born To Die, in the haunting words of her breakthrough 2012 album, and darkness permeated her sound and smothered her worldview.

But five years after Born To Die, the prolific singer rolled out her fourth major-label album over the weekend with the intriguing title Lust For Life.

Has she finally escaped the choking melancholia? But make no mistake - the 32-year-old still worms her way into your heart and mind with her quickly recognisable voice, breathy and coquettish, on her new album.

But she is not fighting her battles alone. She has roped in other well-known names to knot her songs together.

Stevie Nicks, her sandy voice smoothly complementing Del Rey's, joins for Beautiful People, Beautiful Problems.

Sean Lennon brings a gentle beauty to Tomorrow Never Came.

If Lust For Life largely stays true to the sound honed by Del Rey, the New York-born singer also reaches into new territory as she speaks out, in her own way, on politics.

Del Rey has hardly become a protest singer, of course.

But she becomes a uniquely effective voice in turning her forlorn sound into a reflection on the America of United States President Donald Trump.

On God Bless America - And All Beautiful Women In It, her gloominess gives way to uplift as she finds solidarity in the masses of women who took to the streets after the shock of Mr Trump's election.

"May you stand proud and strong/Like Lady Liberty, shining all night long," she pays tribute.

The often dour Del Rey is again startlingly optimistic as she reaches into history on When The World Was At War We Kept Dancing.

"Is it the end of an era? Is it the end of America? No, it's only the beginning. If we hold on to hope, we will have a happy ending," she sings.

In a recent interview with Elle United Kingdom, Del Rey said it was impossible in the current moment to escape politics.

"It would be weird to be making a record during the past 18 months and not comment."

She must also be referring to recent headlines, including terrorism and a growing move worldwide to be insular and protectionist.

So why has the sun finally shone in her once-dark world?

"Developmentally, I was in the same place for a very long time and then it just took me longer than most people to be able to be more out there," the Pitchfork entertainment portal cited her as saying.

"Being more naturally shy, it's taken stretching on my part to just continue to integrate into the local community, global community, to grow as a person.

"Also, getting really famous doesn't help you grow with the community."

Some naysayers have believed that she was just a poser - in singing about getting hurt and in tormented relationships.

Sample - "He hit me and it felt like a kiss" from Ultraviolence (2014).

In the same Pitchfork interview, Del Ray admitted that women hated her. "It's because there were things I was saying that either they just couldn't connect to or were maybe worried that, if they were in the same situation, it would put them in a vulnerable place."

In real life, the singer has been caught in vulnerable situations.

"Someone stole both my cars. I've had people in my house for sure, and I didn't know they were there while I was there. Obviously, that's the one in 100,000 people who's crazy. But I (had a hard time sleeping) for a minute."

Her current feel-good vibes may have something to do with a new man in her life, with rumours swirling that she is dating 28-year-old US rapper and record producer G-Eazy.

"They (the rumours) are usually true. Maybe where there's smoke, there's fire," said Del Ray who is expected to be at her smouldering best performing in London tonight and in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Poland next month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2017, with the headline 'From Born To Die to Lust For Life'. Print Edition | Subscribe