Lana Del Rey: Violet Bent Backwards over the Grass review – poetry debut with mixed results

(Interscope)

The singer’s first audiobook-with-music shows skill but suffers from flowery wordplay

This being Lana Del Rey, the title track of her poetry-audiobook-with-music suggests some sordid gymnastics at a garden party. Not so: the image captures a young girl doing an accidental backbend. Her uninhibited joy catches Del Rey unawares, throwing the writer’s resolute, but unrevealed plans off-kilter.

Del Rey’s poetry collection is punctuated by skilfully rendered moments such as these, pregnant freeze-frames in language that justify the singer calling herself a poet. But just as often, Del Rey can lapse into verbose descriptiveness, her wordplay flowery or overcooked. She is great on place specifics and internal assonance, less so as she wafts on about her own gentle nature. Throughout, producer Jack Antonoff contributes mostly unobtrusive backings; tense strings only accompany Bare Feet on Linoleum.

With these poems, you are on pretty solid ground identifying the “I” as Del Rey – or, indeed, the “Elizabeth Grant” who signs up for flying lessons, then sailing lessons, in SportCruiser, keen to be captain of her own ship. The greatest reward is found when Del Rey mines a situation for bleak humour, as she does on Tessa DiPietro – about a body-worker who disabuses Del Rey of the notion of taking life lessons from the Doors’ Jim Morrison.

Contributor

Kitty Empire

The GuardianTramp

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