2018, Music

Historian (2018) by Lucy Dacus

Though I don’t listen to a lot of contemporary music, it feels like there are a lot of women singer-songwriters singing these somewhat quiet songs with an intimate sound and really well-thought-out accompaniment. I thought that’s what I was in for so, when “Night Shift” breaks out, I was happy this wasn’t one of those records.

Dacus writes songs that often begin as these intimate confessions or character studies but soon break out. Sometimes the songs just start out like that. It’s definitely not what I thought I’d get given her voice and that’s to her credit, as she could have written to her voice (or sung to her songs, I guess). A lot of songwriters don’t really focus on dynamics and it’s clear she does. She has a real knack for building songs.

The arrangements play a role in this too, with a song often sounding like it’s going to be chamber pop before the drums and guitar kick in. I will say I prefer this kind of music more muscular than it is and I would like the whole thing to be slightly jammier. Her sense of dynamics as a songwriter is maybe just not quite as good when it comes to the execution. (Think about the guitar solo on “Yours & Mine” and how it doesn’t quite get to where you know the player, whoever it is, can go.)

I was going to complain about the mix but then I adjusted my stupid earbuds and realized that at least some of my complaints about the band and the mix were because my headphones aren’t ideal for listening to this kind of music. I should have been listening to it on a stereo or, you know, just better headphones.

Anyhow, this is pretty good. It’s nice to hear an album that rocks. I’m old and like rock music and making use of dynamic range in music is important to me. I am more drawn to musicians who know how to do that over those who don’t. And Dacus knows how to do it.


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