LUCY DACUS – ” Historian ” Best Albums Of 2018

Posted: December 15, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Last summer just a few weeks after Dacus’s highly anticipated LP Historian was released on Matador Records, the Richmond, Va.-based singer/guitarist and her band descended on SXSW for an incredible 17 sets. It was a remarkable feat, especially considering the emotional power packed into Dacus’s music. Here is a major leap forward in just a few short years. Dacus is one of the brightest young songwriters in music right now. Live performances of songs like “Night Shift” and “Pillar of Truth” carried the same impact as they do on Historian, even without the horns and string sections that appear on that remarkable record.

At just 23, Lucy Dacus is well beyond her years. One listen to her sophomore record Historian and you’ll know. The album is a deep meditation on loss and redemption, filled with stories from Dacus’ past and surrounded by crunchy guitars and distortion, a la PJ Harvey and the Pixies. “A lot of the songs revert back to very specific moments, but I didn’t write [them] in the moment,” she says. “They just came out over time the way that they did. There wasn’t this immediate translation from life to song.” Dacus grew up in Richmond, Va., surrounding herself with music her whole life. She started singing early on as a child, graduating to church choir soon after. In middle school, she bought a guitar and started learning chords and, in high school, she finally took the plunge and started writing her own music. After high school, she got the courage to start playing live in front of people. Her first album, 2016’s No Burden, was recorded super lo-fi—no recording budget, no expectations, no fans to consider. She issued it via Richmond upstart label EggHunt Records and it gained the attention of Matador Records, who re-released it, propping her up onto an international stage just like that. When it came time to write Historian, a newfound pressure existed, and she says that an ever-present feeling loomed throughout the recording process. “There’s a responsibility now,” she says. “I don’t take it lightly. It’s not necessarily stressful, but it is a weight.” Dacus’ extreme confessions on songs like “Night Shift,” “Body to Flame” and “Pillar of Truth” are Historian album highlights, but it’s clear that the whole thing has an emotional heft to it that you don’t hear often with early twenty-somethings. “It’s really normal to be anxious,” she says. “There are these immediate pressures— politically, culturally, and within my family or friend groups—[and] there seems to be a lot of confusion in my life. That comes through on the album as me trying to maintain hope throughout those things. I would feel like a failure if that didn’t come through.”

Lucy Dacus is done thinking small. Two years after her 2016 debut, No Burden, won her unanimous acclaim as one of rock’s most promising new voices, Dacus returned with Historian, a remarkably assured 10-track statement of intent. It finds her unafraid to take on the big questions — the life-or-death reckonings, and the ones that just feel that way. It’s a record full of bracing realizations, tearful declarations and moments of hard-won peace, expressed in lyrics that feel destined for countless yearbook quotes and first tattoos.
“This is the album I needed to make,” says Dacus, who views Historian as her definitive statement as a songwriter and musician. “Everything after this is a bonus.”

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