Release Date: Apr 1, 2016
Record label: Ehse
When Lucy Dacus begins to sing, you immediately hear the wonderful contrast between her voice and the music. Her smooth, rich voice dances gracefully over the rougher guitar riffs and drums found all over No Burden, her extremely confident first full-length. The contrast puts the spotlight on her lyricism, simple, straightforward words that pack a punch, with moments of subtle philosophy peppered throughout.
The mystified plight of post-adolescence is a time-honored muse for many artists. For Lucy Dacus, the minutiae of her confessional songwriting is culled from acute observation and sleek homage to this universal truth, and oft-times brilliantly so on her debut LP, No Burden. To be clear, No Burden was originally released by the small Richmond, Virginia label Egghunt earlier this year, but is now being reissued by venerable indie stronghold Matador following much critical acclaim and a few successful cross-country tours.
Lucy Dacus’ excellent opening salvo “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore” recalls that of a very, very different artist: Katy Perry’s “One of the Boys,” in which the tomboy who’d become one of our biggest (and most femme-presenting) pop stars initially expressed her wish to “smell like roses, not a baseball team. ” The first song on Dacus’ debut album, No Burden, explores more than just the theme of attractiveness though; not only does the Virginia songwriter surmise that she could be “the cute one” because she owns a too-short skirt, but she’d rather be the gossip than the target of her friends “saying things they don’t mean,” and she’d rather be in the band than its biggest fan. Matchbox Twenty’s “Real World” found Rob Thomas fantasizing about being a superhero or making the rain, and 20 years later a woman from his same planet will dream that it’s just as far-fetched for the patriarchy to describe her with another two or three adjectives.
Two songs on Richmond-based singer/songwriter Lucy Dacus' debut album No Burden contain the same chorus: "Without you I am surely the last of our kind/ Without you I am surely the last of my kind." The songs, "Dream State..." and "...Familiar Place," seem to complete each other elliptically, and approach their shared lyric through two different paths; the first describes a flood, both emotional and physical, while the second finds its narrator crawling through a dead garden. Both choruses seem to obey the physics of dreams: people are lost irretrievably, landscapes shift from domestic to alpine. Dacus conveys the warm, human perspective at the center of this turning vortex, a person trying to survive the infinite flow of change.
No Burden is the debut of Lucy Dacus, a singer and songwriter who grew up just outside of Richmond, Virginia and connected with the city's indie music scene as a high schooler. The album was recorded on relatively short notice when a friend alerted her to an open day at Nashville's Starstruck Studio, where he worked. Dacus put together a band of guitarist Jacob Blizard, bass player Christine Moad, and drummer Hayden Cotcher, and they arranged her songs for a quartet in the week leading up to a ten-hour recording session.
Lucy Dacus’s new album, No Burden, is exactly the opposite of its namesake. For her, it is a life-changer and an obstruction. After all, imagine making an album on a lark that alters the trajectory of your life. That’s exactly what happened with Dacus. Here’s the narrative: she originally ….
It seems as if Macklemore anticipated the coming of his second album more than hip-hop fans. This Unruly Mess I’ve Made, judging by the title, is an incredibly poignant piece on the artist and the issues his success has caused among various communities. Or, I should say, that’s what Macklemore wanted it to be. The final result is one that aspires to achieve more than it actually does.
On her Matador debut, Lucy Dacus pre-emptively quashes imminent parities to singers cut from similar stylistic cloth (Angel Olsen, Courtney Barnett). Lead-off single "I Don't Wanna Be Funny Anymore" hooks on arrival, the clever 21-year-old's sober lyrics digesting wonderfully snide. Later, tender "Trust" and "... Familiar Place" sidestep the Virginian's indie guitar rock.