In a cluttered and, at times, claustrophobic music scene, it is rare that an honest and earnest voice comes streaming out from the crowds. Whilst Lucy Dacus may not be the first musician the address the challenges and predicaments of those post-teenage years, her keen perception of self and the delicacies of relationships rings true with any discerning listener today.
No Burden is Dacus’s debut LP. Following rave reviews and not-so-quiet rumblings of her tracks spreading across music networks, Dacus and her band have now completed a number of successful tours across the U.S.A, North America and Europe.
Dacus has a depth to her tone and a confidence and assuredness in her voice that can mistakenly sit beyond her 21 years of age. As a consequence, her lyrics and messages held within the tracks take on a measured seriousness that we believe and accept. Starting out as a solo artist, this is perhaps why the power of Dacus’s songs (and the aforementioned confidence in her music) is maximised when sitting among a band.
From the offset, No Burden speaks to us from a place of post-adolescent insecurities, but the theme of feeling socially misplaced is relatable to all demographic ages. “I don’t want to be funny anymore / I’ve got a too-short skirt, maybe I can the be cute one / Is there room in the band? I don’t need to the front-man / If not, then I’ll be the biggest fan.” Words taken from the LP’s leading single, Dacus instantly hits the nail on the head on how we doubt ourselves, our ability to change and where our diffidence can limit our choice.
Strange Torpedo, arguably the most thought provoking track in the collection, articulates the frustrations of trying to help the ones you love and influencing those that are emotionally closed off. Dacus, using the voice of an apprehensive friend casting an omnipotent eye on helpless situations, she sings, “I thought you’d hit rock bottom, but I’m starting to think that it doesn’t exist / ‘Cause you’ve been falling for so long / And you haven’t it anything solid, yet.” Strong, pulsating guitar riffs, driving song lines, and the song hyperbolise Dacus and her band’s ability to take what would ordinarily be a lamenting ballad track to a full band production. “I get smoke in my eye every time I try to look you in the eyes / Do I even know what your face looks like? / Just a cloud of smoke in its place / I’m trying to tell you something you might’ve heard before.” These tracks offer a confessional tone for Dacus whilst not over indulging in self-pity.
But don’t be fooled into thinking this Richmond, Virginia native is a one trick pony with only fast-paced indie-rock tracks. A jewel in the LP comes in the form of the seven minute epic, Map On A Wall. Here we really see the musical dexterity of Dacus. The track washes in and out of moments harmonic swells like an emotionally charged tidal wave heading inland. The lyrics are delivered in a stream of consciousness, “Oh please, don’t make fun of me / Oh you know I get frightened so easily / When I’m all alone and the floorboards creak / It’s those noises in the dark.”
We believe Dacus. We are fully absorbed by her questions on life and what it has thrown in her direction so far. Whilst the themes are familiar, they are still profound in their investigation. This article comes from having seen Dacus perform live twice in the past year. Firstly in a packed tent at End of the Road Festival where the artist held her own in a solo performance, mesmerising and capturing the attention of all held within its canvas walls. Secondly in Leeds, but this time with full band as part of her U.K tour. At both these gigs her warm voice taking us with her on a reminiscing pathway of feeling.
There aren’t vast swathes of complexity in her music – but this doesn’t matter. Her honest approach to subject matter held within the tracks means that a listener should just be willingly taken for a ride on Dacus’s personal but relatable tales.
Listen and download No Burden now and go to lucydacus.com to find out more about Lucy Dacus.