“Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd” Album Review: There’s No Artist Like Lana

An album that reimagines femininity, lust and death while still keeping the classic “Lana” touch ends up cementing that there’s no other artist quite like her.

Photo Courtesy / YouTube Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey’s latest album “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd” is her ninth album that reimagines femininity, lust and death while still keeping the classic “Lana” touch.

Del Rey opens her album with a moving piece called “The Grants,” affectionately titled after her family name, Grant. The song opens with orchestral music and hymnals that instantly transport the listener onto a mountain top with Del Rey where she reflects on the true meaning of life and death.

She learns at the end of the track that when she looks back on her life, she’ll find that true beauty and joy comes from family. The pre-chorus ends with “my pastor told me when you leave, all you take Oh-Oh, is your memory,” leading into the chorus of “and I’m gonna take mine of you with me.”

“The Grants” is a moving piece that goes beyond celebrity fame and romantic love and lust and moves into something much deeper and more profound. Del Rey plays with the concept of religion, a heavy theme throughout the rest of the album. She manages to incorporate this in a way that does not come off as too preachy. The track allows Del Rey, an artist who is not often taken seriously by the media to open herself up even more for her audience.    

The rest of the album still has the signature Del Rey-touch. She sings about her relationship with sexuality and femininity, normal Lana subject matter, becoming something more profound on the track “Sweet.”

Del Rey sings “Lately, we’ve been makin’ out a lot not talkin’ ’bout the stuff that’s at the very heart of things.” The song is set in the north country, where barefoot Del Rey reflects on past relationships.

She asks about children, marriage and nature — asking important questions without denying herself. Del Rey is a sexual person, and she doesn’t steer too far away from that subject matter, but Del Rey sings passionately about who she is, ridding herself of the narrative that her body is all she has.

In many of Del Rey’s previous albums, like “Norman F**king Rockwell!,” She gives off an energy of Americana and “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd” is no different. 

In “Judah Smith Interlude,” Del Rey includes a 4:37 minute talk from celebrity preacher Judah Smith in what sounds like an auditorium. The large congregation and orchestral Christian music elicit a distinctly American feeling, but there’s something else in the song that’s worth noting. 

Del Rey opens with Smith preaching “do not lust after your neighbor,” he then talks about the importance of a loving family and children. It might seem pointless to place a preacher in the middle of an indie album, but the sermon is obviously meaningful to Del Rey, and it reimagines the themes of previous projects and  songs such as “The Grants.”

Del Rey has once again come out with a beautiful album so distinctly her that can’t be replicated. With features from artists such as Father John Misty and Bleachers, “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd” is rich in history, passion and layer-upon layers of instrumentals. The fascinating thing about Del Rey is that no artist comes close to her style, aesthetic and energy.