- By Andrew Muccitelli -
Virginia-born songwriter Lucy Dacus begins her sophomore album Historian with some of the most vulnerable lyrics of the entire record. She recalls, “The first time I tasted somebody else’s spit, I had a coughing fit.” As a listener, it is very easy to imagine being in Dacus’s position: having your first kiss since a major breakup while not being able to shake the thought of your ex-lover.
Dacus persists through these moments of weakness throughout Historian’s opening track “Night Shift.”
She tries to restructure the pieces of her life independently without being reminded of her past romances. Dacus sings with a distinct sense of honesty. Her lyrics manage to be both poetic as well as straight to the point. She owns up to her weaknesses and puts her focus on building a brighter future for herself.
Historian is a fantastic album. It is a wondrous leap up from her debut record, No Burden. While No Burden mainly consisted of smooth electric guitar lines supported by Lucy Dacus’s warm voice, Historian consists of wildly intricate instrumentation. On this record, Dacus experiments with horns, strings, and the overall presence of a full band.
She maintains her alternative rock sound.
However, Dacus dips into a more Southern-rooted sound on tracks like “Yours and Mine." Dacus’ lyrics are wise and thought-provoking. One may very well find themselves Googling Dacus’s age to see how old she is, as it seems she has lived a lifetime of experiences. The lyrical content of Historian spans from heartbreak to religion to death. Dacus intertwines these subjects masterfully, and every concept feels related to each other within the span of the album’s forty-seven minutes.
The emotional centerpiece of Historian is “Pillar of Truth.”
This is a ballad about Dacus’s late grandmother. Lyrically, the song describes Dacus visiting her grandmother on her deathbed and dealing with the sorrow. The song is a humble reminder to listeners that life is temporary. The song picks up about halfway through, with Dacus singing to the heavens. Dacus once described the musical crescendo as her grandmother’s “ascent to heaven.” By the end of the seven-minute song, one is left with a feeling of completion. The song starts and ends with the soft strumming of an electric guitar. Lucy Dacus takes her listeners through an emotional arc that many artists strive to achieve. She knows how to make you feel, and she uses that power to its absolute capacity on “Pillar of Truth”.
On Historian, Lucy Dacus describes a multitude of personal sentiments.
One of the most notable tracks off of the album is “Nonbeliever”. Here, Lucy Dacus comes out publicly as not a Christian. She was raised in a Christian family in Virginia. She sings about herself from an outsider’s perspective. Dacus describes distinct moments, such as the scorn Dacus’s mom displayed when her daughter came out as a non-believer. The song’s lyrics chronicle abandonment in all forms. Lucy Dacus has lost her religion.
Former lovers and former friends have abandoned her. In the chorus, she croons, “If you find what you’re looking for, be sure to send a new address.” Historian is an emotional journey for Dacus, and “Nonbeliever” marks a significant change in her disposition. The loss of one’s religion is a personal milestone, and Dacus addresses it with an acquired sense of confidence and grace.
Historian is a triumphant display of Lucy Dacus’s intellect.
Though she is only twenty-five, she sings with the wisdom of rock and roll legends. She is painfully aware of her circumstances, and she embraces them with confidence and bravery. Though Dacus has had her heart broken, she chooses to spend her time on personal reformation rather than wallowing in pain. She knows that one day, she will die, as many of her loved ones have as well. She constantly works on finding herself and bettering her emotional state. Historian gained Lucy Dacus a new audience and much broader fanbase, and rightfully so. Things will only go up from here for Lucy Dacus, and we should all feel privileged to join her throughout what I’m sure will be a fruitful and famed music career.