Violet Bent Backwards over the Grass is a haunting and ethereal success for Lana Del Rey.
It is of no surprise that Del Rey took to poetry in her latest venture – having talked prior about releasing her own poetry, for fans of the musician this has been a long time coming. First introduced to Del Rey with her Born to Die album, her music was poetry in itself. With flowing lyrics and passionate declarations, Del Rey carries her musical poetry to a more classical type of poetry, transcending to something reminiscent of a modern day, cutting edge Sylvia Plath.
Listening to poetry is not always as easy as listening to songs, but Lana Del Rey’s poetry audiobook is gripping and mesmerising. Her poems are foundations to her music and although she talks of learning the art of poetry in this audiobook and learning to trust herself with her art, her poetry is established and beautiful and earns itself acknowledgement – acknowledgement for Lana Del Rey as the poet and not just for Lana Del Rey the musician.
Her free-verse prose comes in a mix of long poems and shorter pieces that blend effortlessly into a story of love, desire, independence and growth. We know Del Rey for her melancholic vocals and 60s Americana style, and this translates into her poetry with an easy belonging. Del Rey has expressed poetry as an inspiration to her song writing in the past, citing poets such as Walt Whitman. Del Rey has spoken lengthy monologues before, such as in her video Ride and her body of her own poetry is an extension of what she has revealed to us before. Teasing her poetry, she revealed snippets of her work on social media prior to the release of the audiobook.
A gentle instrumental accompanies Del Rey’s poetry throughout the audiobook and sets the tone and mood of each piece of spoken word. It is an almost scenic backdrop to her lyricism. The intensity of this backing noise builds and builds to the breaking point in the final poem Bare Feet on Linoleum where the pace quickens and the volume peaks and there is a sense of rushing and urgency to end the audiobook. Matching the choir of voices in the background of this last poem, Del Rey’s last words on the audiobook are ‘People love my stories. People love my jokes.’ It is a fitting ending to the tales that have been woven in the poetry and honours the characters she has created of her own personal life and the stories that detach her from the fame and industry we have come to know her in.
Opening with LA Who Am I To Love You?, Del Rey finds an instant voice that grips like a vice and steers the listener through the poetry. The poems themselves can be listened to without the difficulty of having to unpick them – there is no need to listen to this audiobook with the knowledge of classic poets and poem forms as it is accessible and as much of a joy to listen to as any other of Lana Del Rey’s musical albums. Even in this different style, Del Rey remains familiar, a golden screen icon against a newly refreshed backdrop.
The 14 poems featured on the album, all written by Lana Del Rey, are accompanied by the music of Jack Antonoff, Grammy Award winning songwriter and producer. On her website, speaking of crafting her poetry, Del Rey says “They are electric and honest and not trying to be anything other than what they are” and it is the perfect description of the innovative audiobook in itself.