Rey Of Light.
Violence! Death! Darkness that's 'Maleficent' magnificent! Lana Del has sung about it all. This Rey of illuminating light, so bright it could burn you was born to run with mood music this magical. Nobody does it quite like Lizzy Grant in a modern, mainstream music world dominated by the female form of Taylor Swift playful pop or the bubblegum world of Katy Perry. Nobody brings the smoldering old style of generations gone and decades of decadence from the old fifties and sixties Americana and swinging champagne and cigarette clubs quite like today's "gangster" Nancy Sinatra doing things her way. Yet where's the respect? And how about that 007 theme? Because this shaken but never stirred starlet was born to be a Bond girl singing the hook of the title track. Yet, even without a license she's killing it. Once upon a dream, she's become the soundtrack queen regardless. From everything from Disney to 'The Great Gatsby'. Now at 30 and with three albums under her belt, every fan still loves the still 'Young & Beautiful' singer. Even movie star James Franco has wrote a book about her! Still, it doesn't seem like three years ago that she broke through with 'Born To Die', the title track and the big records like the youtube favorite 'Video Games', the boot-cut 'Blue Jeans', scorchingly somber 'Summertime Sadness', the light of pain 'Dark Paradise' and our new, millennial 'National Anthem'. It does however seem like a much longer time since she released her underrated but undeniable follow-up 'Ultraviolence' with the assist from the Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach. From the outstanding opener 'Cruel World' to the aviator awesome 'Shades Of Cool', coupled by two classic singles in the form of the beautiful and brilliant 'Brooklyn Baby' and the California cool 'West Coast' it's a record so timeless it feels like it's been around for an age, not merely the early months of last year. Now in a slumbering September where most people just want to sleep through 'till October 1st, Lana hits us with a ray out of the blue to begin the weekend. The woman born for the screens or scores of movies releases a new album on the day new films usually come out. But these Friday night lights come in the form of a 'Honeymoon' you just can't wait to get engaged with.
Take a Star Line tour down the California coast with this New York girl and this paradise ride will take you to places you've been before via Hollywood for her homage sound. The opening title-track 'Honeymoon' is her own haunting hallmark. Whilst the follow-up 'Music To Watch Boys To' is eye-to-eye, tongue in Andy Williams cheek as she sings "Velveteen and living single/It never felt that right to me/I know what only the girls know/Lies can buy eternity". Then with a 'Space Oddity' Bowie sampler Del Rey sings 'Terrence Loves You' and lyrical laments like "You are what you are/I don't matter to anyone/But Hollywood legends will never grow old/And all of what's hidden/Well, it will never grow cold/But I lost myself when I lost you/But I still got jazz when I've got those blues/And I lost myself when I lost you/And I still get trashed, darling, when I hear your tunes". Asking Major Tom herself if he can hear her from ground control. The lead single 'High By The Beach' is lead strong too in it's blazing beats and smoky singing that takes you to new highs and places you've never been before as she hurts over pained chords like "Boy look at you, looking at me/I know you don't understand/You could be a bad m###########/But that don't make you a man/Now you're just another one of my problems/Because you got out of hand/We won't survive/We're sinking into the sand". Like seeing the oceans tide on the wet sand morning after morning. No grain is the same. The scope is just as beautiful in it's own new, and individually refreshing way and wave. Del Rey's style and signature is just that original...even when she's paying tribute to her inspirations and muses. Just like the mood mesmerizing musician's take on revolutionary singer Nina Simone's classic 'Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood'. Many people have sampled and covered it...from John Legend to Lil' Wayne, but none quite like Lana. And nobody in today's industry who tries as hard could have the rights to sing this quite like this soul whose intentions are good. Understand?
It's all in how you feel! There are some things you just can't shield your senses from. How the futuristic form of the downtown Los Angeles skyline looks at night. How the sand of Venice Beach feels between your feet like the Pacific sun feels on your face. How a chilled bottle of your favorite beer tastes as you walk the line in the sand. Hand in hand how the perfume of the one you love smells. There's nothing quite like it...just like the sound of Lana Del Rey's voice. It's unmistakable. Nostalgic. Impossible to ignore. Hard to forget. Lord knows you've tried. 'God Knows I've Tried' is an example of that, as Lana longs for the quiet life, away from the strain of fame singing "Sometimes I wake up in the morning/To red, blue, and yellow skies/It's so crazy I could drink it like tequila sunrise/Put on that Hotel California/Dance around like I'm insane/I feel free when I see no one/And nobody knows my name", then switching out the last three bars on verse two for more raw reveals as she harmonizes her hurt with "Wear my blinders in the rain/I've got nothing much to live for/Ever since I found my fame". 'Freak' continues the strange but sublime stylings, before the retro pop of 'Art Deco' keeps the texture of her traditional sound alive. It's so haunting it could rewake the ghost of decades past. The spiritual sound continues on 'Religion' and the Italian for "saviour" 'Salvatore'. Between the grey areas there's more dark depths than the black and white of 'Ultraviolence' on 'The Blackest Day'. Yet it's not all doom and gloom, even if "murder" and "carnage" are on the menu for her thoughts of the day on '24', that conclude with the advice and idea that "If you lie down with dogs, then you'll get fleas/Be careful of the company you keep". Remember don't misunderstand, and on her 'Swan Song' she writes it all out perfectly on white "Put your white tennis shoes on and follow me/Why work so hard when you could just be free?/You got your moment now, you got your legacy/Let's leave the world for the ones who change everything/Nothing could stop the two of us/Let's just get lost, that's what we want". Dreaming of gliding above a Route 66 out of dodge surface that she works so hard for underneath, Vowing to never sing again if her lover no longer needs to work a day in their life. One last ride? Let's hope like the ideas of the last two albums being her last it's not true right now. Even if she's already given us so much already, it's clear to hear there's plenty of classics left for her timeless sound and style in a matrimony of musical marriage that is set to define the generations and time to come. The honeymoon is far from over! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Monday, 21 September 2015
Oasis legend Noel Gallagher once said he loved Ryan Adams hauntingly beautiful version of his classic 'Wonderwall' so much so that Ryan could "have the song" as Noel himself started playing Adams acoustic, stripped down version at his own live shows. The High Flying Birds lead even believed he didn't really hear or understand his own song until the former Cardinal and Whiskeytown singer put his own unique genius and signature style stamping on it. Adding, "I think Ryan Adams is the only person who ever got that song right"! But now however Sally can wait. After working with the legendary likes of Norah Jones and Jenny Lewis (for last years stellar, Summer, suit cover vibrant 'The Voyager') it's Taylor whose about to be re-made...swiftly. The country star turned pop sensation is arguably the biggest thing in any music genre right now and had the most successful album of 2014 with '1989' and it's mega-hits 'Blank Space', 'Out Of The Woods', 'Style' and 'Bad Blood'...and it's Kendrick Lamar rap version. But this right here is more than a remix...this is arguably the most anticipated and eagerly awaited album of 2015.'1989'...Ryan's way. Even Taylor herself couldn't contain her excitement as the country star calls the country legend one of the inspirations in shaping her songwriting craft. Now to return the favor, the big, 'Welcome To New York' apple of Adams eye becomes his muse as he takes her songwriting and shapes it in his own Smiths style that will never go out of fashion.
Take two. Armed and amped up with the wood of an acoustic and the steel of a harmonica, Adams want to take this ride to the 1982 feel of Bruce Springsteen's acoustic, winter bleak driven 'Nebraska' and the closest singer/songwriter today to The Boss this fall really is giving modern music a reason to believe taking this all the way to 'Atlantic City'. Following all sorts of releases recently from his Pax Am record label singles and even '1984', along with his self-titled return that remade a name for himself, Ryan Adams with his 15th album in 2015 is remaking himself all over again and Swift's sound with his take on Taylor. The man has been giving us something good for awhile now with long player classics like 'Heartbreaker', 'Gold', 'Jacksonville City Nights', '29', 'Cardinology' and 'Ashes & Fire' to go along with his own group works and epic experimental albums like the metal of 'Orion' has just added another one to rival his best yet under his belt. Making his 40th year one of real celebration for a man whose been in this industry almost as long as Taylor Swift has been alive. One of the best singer/songwriters of all time was peddling records when the best one today was learning to walk. Now with his own take on her Polaroid picture, Adams' re-focused sound on this "eighties" classic has it's own frame with a portrayal that bears more soul. The only song that sounds remotely the same in tone and texture is the 'Welcome To New York' opening. As the man who performed his 2001 classic 'New York, New York' with the World Trace Center in the background a fortnight before the towers fell opens this album and its Big Apple introduction with the sound of the beach birds we can see on the awe inspiring artwork of this classic cover of this covers album. The song itself is the most upbeat and fast-paced this rock version of this pop album gets...but trust us that is a good thing. This one may get you charged, but the chilled introspective feel to the new pop generations biggest influence is inspired. Ryan Adams remakes Taylor Swift's biggest album beautifully for what may just be his with whats yet to come. From the brooding 'All You Had To Do Was Stay' sung with even more longing that if one day a single (for either), could reach out all the way to the pop charts, to the somber 'I Wish You Would' and sweet 'That's How You Get The Girl', Adams makes all these album tracks flow cohesively like we where back in the good old vinyl days of records playing from the minute the needles dropped to the final seconds of the last scratch. 'This Love' is arguably one of Taylor Swift's most beautiful and best hidden gems of personal and powerful songwriting, nothing can truly rival it but Adams comes as close as they come. Just like he does adding more shine to 'Clean' with a shot of whiskey in this town, all whilst taking Taylor back to her country roots with his country strong take on 'I Know Places' that could find itself at home in Nashville, just like it could on any other Jacksonville City night.
Still, it's on the singles where are singer gets stellar on the songwriting of Swift. 'Blank Space' sounds completely different as the biggest single of last year is given a clean slate with what Ryan brings to the table in slow and somber cords that turns a song about replacing lovers with a new wrote down name into a tree engraving of a man going through the motions of looking for love in all the wrong sort of different places. Don't be confused, this isn't for 'Starbucks lovers' and that was never the lyric as Adams pains through lines like "They'll tell you I'm insane" you can really feel the fire of the chorus "So it's gonna be forever/Or it's gonna go down in flames" that teenage girls everywhere are singing into their mirror, like it's the evergreen vocals of the Cash of the Man in Black. Walking the pop culture/modern music line even tighter than a taught rope, Ryan even brings darker depths of brutal beauty to the fun frolics of her lead single 'Shake It Off'. Brushing no dirt of his shoulder as he sends shivers down spines as he brings to reality lines like "I've got nothing on my brain/that's what people say". It goes further into the forest of the nature of meaningful songwriting with his re-invented vision and version on Taylor's deep 'Out Of The Woods' and her diverse, slick 'Style' that brings even more magic to the mid-night hour as (s)he begins with the singing of the line "Midnight/You come and pick me up, no headlights", more rip-roared and rocked here. Oh this album truly is something...on both sides of the coin. Re-waking Taylor's 'Wildest Dreams' from her latest single to this latest album. What started with a sneak peak of a version of one of Taylor Swift's more recent offerings from her outstanding album and lead to more tweets then your latest trend could offer has lead to something truly special and more meaningful. In resetting the tone, Adams could re-set a new one when it comes to releasing covers and different strokes on artists works. The blood running through this is a beautiful bond...nothing bad. Now in a world tour that has seen Taylor Swift bring everyone from Julia Roberts to Kobe Bryant (to present her with her very own victory banner in STAPLES in the same rafters as all those Los Angeles Lakers jerseys and banners) on stage, maybe it's time she welcomed Ryan out for some '1989' duets (or a collabo concert tour) in both styles at her next gig. Taylor Swift may currently have the best album out at the moment still making hits, but does Ryan Adams have the better version of it? That's a blank space for you to write in... TIM DAVID HARVEY.