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Lucy Dacus - Historian (Album Review)

Monday, 26 March 2018 Written by Jennifer Geddes

Photo: Dustin Condren

Lucy Dacus doesn’t primarily see herself as a songwriter. But the success of her debut album, ‘No Burden’, particularly the track I Don’t Want To Be Funny Anymore, led her to contemplate the responsibilities of her new role. This is, in part, what led her to call her second album ‘Historian’.

The songs on this record are a collection of stories and moments in time dotted with people from Dacus’ life, who are now forever immortalised in her work. As the title track (of sorts) explains: “I'll be your historian, and you'll be mine. And I'll fill pages of scribbled ink, hoping the words carry meaning.”

The album’s broad themes are loss and acceptance, and Body To The Flame examines the death of Dacus’s grandmother. You can imagine her sitting bedside, while the addition of a cello adds to the sombre tone.

The strings come in as we feel her struggling, “Trying to stay elegant, eloquent and delicate to you.” The track ends with a single minor note as Dacus sings: “You take me aside. To solemnly confide. When it comes the time. You plan to give your body to the flame.” Her songs cover heavy topics but they are also tough and hopeful.

Dacus’s voice is both soft and strong, exemplifying the duality of her personality. Similarly, her lyrics are affecting yet witty. On The Shell, a track that looks at the creative process, she notes: “I am busy doing nothing. And you're rudely interrupting.” The song evolves into a sprawling guitar solo with orchestral flourishes reminiscent of the expansive rock of the ‘70s.

It’s something wouldn’t sound out of place on a Wes Anderson soundtrack and perhaps it’s that filmic quality that makes the record so engaging. The listener can sit back and watch the scene unfold. Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you cry, but you feel attached to all the characters.

The opening track, Night Shift, explores the the idea that the passing of time after a break up will bring new context to Dacus’s music. “In five years I hope the songs feel like covers, dedicated to new lovers,” she sings. Its first line, “The first time I tasted someone else’s spit, I had a coughing fit,” is sung with just an electric guitar for accompaniment, and is immediately engaging.

Over the course of six minutes it confidently takes its time in poring over the emotions of a break-up. Each line is so perceptive that it’s hard not to compare her story to your own experiences. By the time you reach the song’s climax, you’re fully invested in the narrative and the lines “You got a 9 to 5, so I’ll take the night shift, and, I’ll never see you again if I can help it,” are devastating and empowering at the same time.

At the age of 22, Dacus’s lyrics make her seem wise beyond her years, just like her music seems taken from another time. Maybe in a past life she was a songwriter, or a historian or a filmmaker. She certainly is a storyteller.

Lucy Dacus Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu April 19 2018 - LEEDS Belgrave Music Hall
Fri April 20 2018 - GLASGOW Hug and Pint
Sat April 21 2018 - MANCHESTER Gulliver's
Sun April 22 2018 - BIRMINGHAM Hare And Hounds
Tue April 24 2018 - BRISTOL Louisiana
Wed April 25 2018 - LONDON Omeara
Thu April 26 2018 - BRIGHTON Hope & Ruin

Click here to compare & buy Lucy Dacus Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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