Richmond, Virginia singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus has said her second LP is concerned with staking her artistic platform to activist action. For the most part, though, the confrontations she maps out are more interior than openly polemic. Historian opens with "Night Shift," where she sings about shaking loose a romantic obsession, her voice as delicate as an exhalation as she finds herself caught between longing and "resisting urges to punch you in the teeth."
These songs are confessional but not diaristic, her lyrics sound like half of a conversation in which Dacus lets fly with discursive bon mots about the more terrifying prospects of companionship and community, anxiously poking around in the lingering wounds of bonds both romantic and familial. "Who knew one day it would be so hard to have you by my side?" Dacus sings on "Addictions." These are glorious little ghost stories wrapped up in love songs, where the 23-year-old artist seems to be weighing who she's becoming versus what she's inherited. For all its keen lyricism, Historian ultimately floats on a sea of fuzz, rich with small melodic details and the sort of glorious guitar heroics that indie rock is often much too modest for. It's music that bears the weight of the critical accolades heaped on her upstart 2017 debut No Burden rather beautifully. Dacus and her band sound emboldened, confident, like kids who are thrilled they still have something to prove.