by sarah hughes (@hollowcrown)
American singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus proves herself a ferocious storyteller and stellar musician in this emotional departure from her 2016 debut No Burden. By exploring different styles throughout her latest LP, Historian, she is developing her own signature sound whilst maintaining her ballad credentials. With two carefully curated singles under this record’s belt, the music community is anticipating which direction this incredible artist will take her talent next.
The structure of this album is paramount in exploring a hurtful separation – the first half is raw and unfiltered then, as the songs play out, they become more mature and resolved. Stylistically this creates incredible contrast and atmosphere, and by using this method Dacus enthralls the listener in her heartache.
Around the halfway mark there seems to be a lull in energy, with songs like Nonbeliever failing to delivering the catharsis we expect from a break up record. As a result, we are left somewhat pining for more; however, this dip in energy serves a symbolic purpose in conveying the long and melancholic halt of life after someone leaves, and strongly reinforces the growth later exemplified in the record with songs like Timefighter delivering that punch we were previously denied. Lucy Dacus successfully involves the audience in her own personal healing process whilst remaining relatable which, in turn, outputs a powerful record.
In comparison to her previous efforts, there is a very apparent adjustment of her songwriting ability and character. She has developed a signature of intense build-ups in her songs – they often start frail and build to strong numbers. In addition to this, she has experimented more freely throughout Historian than ever before, playing with synths, samples and classical strings; songs like The Shell, for example, benefit from these extra sounds as they add to the tone and romanticise an otherwise angst-ridden story.
In Body to Flame, a track from the latter portion of the album, the introduction of classical strings adds maturity and refinement. Soliloquys are also a really interesting tool Dacus uses to evoke a reaction from the audience and project the solitude she is feeling, particularly in album closer Historians, a track which shows a lot of influence from Deerhunter and parallels the lingering pain of their instrumentals. This is perhaps the most melancholic point of the record, as it’s the final curtain and she is finally letting go.
As a whole, this release cements Lucy Dacus as an independent, ferocious musician, well on her way to making waves in the scene. There’s an obvious progression from her first album, and she is striving to push her own boundaries and experiment with her newly-found signature style.