Lucy Dacus: Historian
Feel that lump forming in your throat? That’s Lucy Dacus’ new album Historian creeping up on you. The bad news is that those feelings aren’t going away soon. The good news is that you’re listening to one of the best albums of the year. The roots-rock singer from Virginia became an indie favorite in 2015 with her cool-girl kiss-off “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore” from her debut No Burden . Dacus belongs to a new school of female singer-songwriters—alongside Julien Baker, Mitski and Vagabon, with Sharon Van Etten serving as godmother— who prove that women can be deeply vulnerable and truly rock out simultaneously. On Historian, she’s blasting that duality through your speakers with 10 gems that are as ragged and raw as they are gorgeous. Album opener “Night Shift” begins with melancholy strumming, then Dacus sets the brutal tone: “The first time I tasted somebody else’s spit, I had a coughing fit/ I mistakenly called them by your name/ I was let down—it wasn’t the same,” she sings, then adds, surely with a miserable grin, “I’m doing fine… trying to derail my one track mind.” But this isn’t just a sad, soft weeper—“Night Shift” builds with fiery, blown-out guitars and mercilessly bashed drums. Historian showcases an excellent songwriter deftly using every tool in her arsenal: The strings on “Nonbeliever” shoot Dacus’ chorus straight into the sky; the backup vocals of “Yours and Mine” deepen the wound of lines like, “We’ve got a long way to go before we get home, because this ain’t my home anymore.” Lucy Dacus doesn’t need humor to get your attention anymore. You just need to listen.