Essential New Music: Lucy Dacus’ “Historian”

“I’m afraid of pain, both yours and mine,” sings Lucy Dacus plaintively on the cold open to “Yours And Mine,” which forms the emotional core of her raw and bracing sophomore LP. Historian finds Dacus crafting a narrative from the emotional detritus of the past year, fashioning firmness from fragility even with the headwinds of chaos ahead. By the time she gets to the end of “Yours And Mine” (“We’ve got a long way to go before we get home, ‘cuz this ain’t my home anymore”), you get a sense of strength in the face of loss, with Dacus’ voice crackling and bright (much like her fellow Southerners Cat Power and Jolie Holland) as she links tale after tale of devotion and doubt together to form the sad-eyed tale of America, circa now.

“Timefighter” is blues updated for a new generation (like Jon Spencer but without the self-conscious irony), and “Night Shift” is straight-up millennial breakup music; “Pillar Of Truth” and the album’s title track form a back-to-back reminder that sometimes it takes total darkness before we can truly see the light. Dacus—whose 2016 No Burden debut was MAGNET’s album of the year—goes from strength to strength here, and Historian is another triumph.

—Corey duBrowa