Virginia singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus has blessed us with the release of her phenomenal sophomore album Historian, combining intensely beautiful lyrics with delicate indie-rock to explore loss and hope.
From the opening line, “The first time I tasted somebody else’s spit I had a coughing fit,” Dacus charms with creative lyrics that are sometimes playful and always painfully true. ‘Night Shift’ is Dacus’ only break-up song, an ambitious six minute beginning to an album packed with sentiment, care and occasional bursts of wildness. By the six minute mark we’re already swept up in her world of warm acoustic guitars, building percussion, pure vocals and fuzzed out riffs.
Lead single ‘Addictions‘ continues the momentum as the vibrant second track, decorated with intricate drums, punchy brass and dirty guitars. The line “I’m just calling ’cause I’m used to it,” will probably make you think more than rock normally does, because this time Dacus made sure she didn’t hold back. Realising her platform as a touring musician, Dacus decided when beginning to write Historian that “The next record should be the thing that’s most important to say.”
Always the wordsmith, Dacus summarises it the best, “From the first song to ‘Pillar of Truth,’ the message is: You can’t avoid these things, so accept them. There’s ways to go about it with grace and gratefulness,” she says. “Then ‘Historians’ says that even if you can say that, there’s still fear, and loss is terrifying. You still love things, so it’s going to hurt. But dark isn’t bad. It’s good to know that.”
It would be so easy to pick out endless lines of unprecedented poignancy, like the all too relatable, “Everybody else looks like they’ve figured it out” from heart-wrenching slow-builder ‘Nonbeliever‘ or the confessional, “I used to be too deep inside my head, now I’m too far out of my skin,” in boppy ‘Next Of Kin‘. But to just focus on the lyrics means we would miss so many moments of sonic beauty.
Symphonic ‘Body To Flame‘, layers sweeping strings, and soaring vocals over the usual indie rock soundscape, creating sweet cacophony of chaos that reflects the exhilaration and tension of the track.
Towards the end of the album, ‘Timefighter‘ is an unexpected highlight, starting with a sultry bassline and Dacus’ low crooning before breaking into a moody blues masterpiece complete with chiming organs and gut-wrenching guitar licks. The sudden explosion into a raucous guitar riff at the three-minute mark is the best release of tension, reappearing towards the end of the song for the ultimate tantrum-accompaniment.
Lucy Dacus has tackled the big stuff with Historian, and it only leaves us wondering what more could possibly be said within the limits of ten tracks? Not that it matters, because this huge album is packed with so many treats that we won’t be listening to anything else for quite some time.
Words by Hayley Franklin.