Lana Del Rey’s new album is her most personal one yet


Emma Minnick, Editor-in-Chief

On March 24, 2023, Lana Del Rey released her ninth studio album “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd.” The album features 14 songs and two interludes, with features from artists Jon Batiste, Father John Misty, Bleachers, Tommy Genesis, and more. The album has gospel, pop, folk, and R&B influences, and keeps Del Rey’s iconic Americana style with a more mature and evolved sound.

While Del Rey has explored personal concepts in her past albums,”Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd.” is based almost entirely on her own life experiences. The songs delve into her past and the things that have shaped her as a person and an artist. Del Rey makes poignant statements about family, love, religion, sexuality, politics, culture, and mental health through the album.

The most personal song by far is “Fingertips,”a slow and reflective ballad. In it, Del Rey expresses her fears about motherhood and family. “Will the baby be alright?/Will I have one of mine?/Can I handle it even if I do?” She talks about the death of her Uncle Dave and her grieving process. Del Rey also references her own mental health: the medications she takes, her suicide attempt at fifteen, and her complicated relationship with both her mother and fame. The overall theme of “Fingertips” is Del Rey’s personal struggles and how she feels forced to mask them, especially given the repeated mantra of “Give myself two seconds to cry.”

As a whole, the album serves as an extended metaphor for embracing emotional scars and damage. This is most prevalent in the track “Kintsugi.” The song’s title is a reference to a Japanese art form where broken pottery is repaired with intricate detailing over the cracks. The sentiment here is that, instead of glossing over our damage and pain, we can instead use it to our advantage. In “Grandfather please stand on the shoulders of my father while he’s deep-sea fishing,” Del Rey sings, “I know they think that it took thousands of people/ To put me together again like an experiment.” Here, she equates herself to a piece of broken Kintsugi, but clarifies that she repaired and gilded her scars all on her own. The cracks are a way to “Let the Light In,” the title of track twelve, as well as a lyric echoed throughout the album.

Even more important than the Kintsugi is the album’s namesake. The titular tunnel under Ocean Blvd. is a real place. The tunnel, formally known as the Jergins Tunnel, is practically forgotten by the people of Long Island Beach because it has been sealed off consistently since 1988. This tunnel, which was once a buzzing tourist attraction, is now a desolate and practically unknown location. When Del Rey sings, “Don’t forget me/Like the tunnel under Ocean Blvd.,” she is making a broader statement about her own relevance. Del Rey is aware that being a woman in the music industry means you have an “expiration date,” something she is hoping to subvert. “Did you know a singer can still be/Looking like a sidepiece at thirty-three?”

Overall, “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd.” is Lana Del Rey’s deepest and most introspective album yet. She certainly has evolved from her “Born to Die” days, with a more avant-garde approach to her music. After this release, I am confident in saying that Lana Del Rey is one of the best lyricists of the 21st century. This album is a compelling story told on a massive scale that still feels palatable.

I would rate this album 4 stars out of 5.