“The first time I tasted somebody else’s spit/I had a coughing fit.” And so opens US singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus’s second album. The brutally honest song, ‘Night Shift’, makes for a majestic six and a half minutes, an acutely open look into a troubled relationship that makes you feel like Lucy’s pouring her heart out to you while sinking a bottle or two of red wine and doing some light Facebook stalking. A song of two parts, the first is teasingly soft and acoustic but the second a caustic, grunged up anthem, with Lucy wailing over the top. We’ve all been there, mate – but rarely is heartbreak so catchy.
The follow-up to 2016’s ‘No Burden’ – which was recorded in one day – the 10 track ‘Historian’ is far bigger, meatier beast than its predecessor. Recorded in Nashville, this is a rock’n’roll album with deep understanding of pop melody but layered up with bold lyrics which disarm you as much as they connect with you. The soulful, almost jazzy ‘Addictions’ sees Lucy urging an ex to “forget your current lover” over a horn section, coming on like a forgotten 1990s teen movie soundtrack, while saying out loud all the things you know you shouldn’t.
The 1970s also loom large over ‘Historian’, with the unlikely influence of Pink Floyd coming to the fore in the alt-rocking psychedelics of ‘The Shell’, the crunchy yet smooth ‘Timefighter’ featuring some moody guitar soloing and a prog-rock breakdown and ‘Pillar of Truth’ the haunting Britfolk of Sandy Denny. It’s fun too, with Lucy’s laidback humour bubbling to the surface in the lilting ‘Next of Kin’, which tackles her own mental health issues with a sardonic wink as she sings: “I am at peace with my death/I can go back to bed”. Sleep on ‘Historians’ however, at your peril.