Dork Radio
Now playing:
In the mag...
Featuring Alfie Templeman, IDLES, LANY and loads more.
Order a copy
October 2020
Review

Lucy Dacus - Historian

‘Night Shift’’s anger, confronts death while alive with possibilities.
Lucy Dacus - Historian
Published: 10:54 am, February 28, 2018
‘Night Shift’’s anger, confronts death while alive with possibilities.

Label: Matador Records
Released: 2nd March 2018
Rating: ★★★

Take a look at the cover of ‘Historian’. There are mountains, and, apparently floating high above them, there’s a figure, holding a red balloon between their teeth. But they could be falling - plummeting earthward, vainly clinging on. It fits this cautiously buoyant, downbeat but driven album perfectly.

If the Richmond, Virginia-based artist’s first album - 2016’s ‘No Burden’ - was made because she could, seizing the opportunity of an open day at a Nashville studio, quickly assembling a band, ‘Historian’ is "the album I needed to make", according to Dacus. And it shows. It’s a dark but graceful rock album - or perhaps a heavy singer-songwriter one - with songs that are at times intensely, almost uncomfortably personal.

But, “hope survives, even in the face of the worst stuff”, and even in its darkest moments, silvery shreds of optimism shine. The opening ‘Night Shift’ - a breakup song of two distinct halves - is a perfect example. Starting as frustrated, futile dissection (“Am I a masochist, resisting urges to punch you in the teeth / Call you a bitch and leave?”) over sparse, strummed guitar, Dacus takes a sudden sharp right, into a tumbling, fuzzy and valiant refrain - “You got a 9 to 5, so I’ll take the night shift/And I’ll never see you again if I can help it.”

Leaving aside the musical surprises - the way ‘Body To Flame’ lurches from gentle waltz into atonal angularity, or the thick, over-saturated guitar solo that punctuates ‘Yours and Mine’ - and her deep, rich voice, Dacus is a great lyric writer, and ‘Historian’ is peppered with memorable lines.

‘Night Shift’ expresses her intent to leave behind the breakup - and that version of herself - neatly (“In five years I hope the songs feel like covers/Dedicated to new lovers”). ‘The Shell’ deals with regret and feelings of emptiness candidly - “If the body and the life were two things that we could divide / I’d deliver up my shell to be filled with somebody else” - while the band pile in, the music still aiming skyward even as everything falls apart.

And finally, the tender title track, the words of a character who’s moved far away from ‘Night Shift’’s anger, confronts death while alive with possibilities, suggesting that new stories are about to written - “I'll be your historian, and you'll be mine / Then one day the motorcade... will come to take one of us away / leaving the other with plenty to read.” Rob Mesure

Give all this a try

Alfie Templeman is on the cover of this month's Dork
New issue

Alfie Templeman is on the cover of this month's Dork

We're giving indie's boy wonder his first magazine cover as he prepares to drop a stonking new track.
The mysterious world of I Don't Know How But They Found Me
Cover feature

The mysterious world of I Don't Know How But They Found Me

Grainy VHS footage? Check. Mysterious figures loitering in the background? Check. Sparkling pop jams with depth and meaning? Check, check and check. It's iDKHOW's time to shine.
Arlo Parks: "I vowed to make music that felt true to my vision, and be a positive force"
Cover feature

Arlo Parks: "I vowed to make music that felt true to my vision, and be a positive force"

Arlo Parks is one of the UK's best young talents; 2021 is her's for the taking.
Life lessons with Dominic Fike: "Do whatever the fuck you want"
Cover feature

Life lessons with Dominic Fike: "Do whatever the fuck you want"

With his much-anticipated debut album now out in the world for all to hear, Dominic Fike has arrived.
Like this? Subscribe to Dork and get every issue delivered direct to your door anywhere on the planet.
CONTACT PRIVACY ADVERTISE

© 2018 The Bunker Publishing