Lucy Dacus – Historian (album review)

by Woody on March 2, 2018

Photo: Dustin Condren

Elvis Costello once said, ‘you have 20 years to write your first album and you have six months to write your second one.” An adage that has proved true in the thirty-years or so since he said it. For me, the second album is often where the rubber meets the road. Historian doesn’t feel like Lucy Dacus’ second album. It feels like the album of someone who has recorded multiple albums and taken some time off. After a few years off and with a wise head on her shoulders, the artist would re-emerge with a stunning album that garnered praise from near and far; making the title Historian so very apt.

2016’s No Burden was a good album. Historian is a phenomenal album; my favorite of 2018 so far. Dacus mines her life to come us 4 to 6 minute vignettes that resonate with the listener. I’ve seen some label Historian as a break-up album. While the lead track, Night Shift, certainly is; labeling the album as a break-up album is doing it a disservice, much like the latest from Marlon Williams. This an album that chronicles her life, including her rise from obscurity to indie darling of the famed Matador Records.

There are no shortage of stunning tracks on this album. The aforementioned Night Shift kicks the album off. Nonbeliever is a great track, looking at finding your way as you get older in a small town, and how people perceive you as grow as a person. Yours & Mine sits in the middle of the album and packs a wallop. It tackles issues many of us are dealing with today. How do you voice your opinion of what’s going on, how do you get involved, how do you change things?

As good as all these tunes are, the penultimate track on the album, Pillar Or Truth is just stunning. It is track written about her grandmother as Lucy spent time with her in final days. I’ve listened to that track forwards and backwards for a month now and I still get goose bumps on every listen. It is a 7 minute cathartic voyage that should resonate with anyone who has lost anybody over a prolonged period where you celebrate their life as much as you mourn them; you consider lucky to have had that person in your life for as long as they were.

This is a stunning album; one that will hold up for years and years. Tip of the cap to producer Collin Pastore, John Congleton who mixed the album and Jacob Blizard who provides tasty guitar work throughout.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Lucy Dacus is here

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