Few artists are better suited to working with a fire-power-heavy backing band than Lucy Dacus. She can certainly capture on her own–the show was book-ended by two unreleased tunes played without a band–but her tunes tend to twist and wind to their conclusions leaving plenty of space for rambunctious climaxes sporting massive cymbal crashes and noisy guitar flourishes to highlight her relatively grounded vocal style.
A band also allows certain influences and sounds to come through a bit too. Mentioning that she was from Richmond, Virginia, I wouldn’t say that she quite lives in the south or fully has any sense of twang, but there’s a bit of alt-country or blues swagger sitting in the background of tunes like “Timefighter” or “Yours & Mine.” Of course there’s more straightforward chugging rockers–her cover of “La Vie en Rose” particularly got the crowd moving– but for an artist who sometimes sounds a bit too broad-strokes stylistically, the live show alleviates this with more pronounced details to the tunes.
In terms of thematic material, Historian was largely a break-up album, but it also took time to ponder the question of what it means to write a narrative and look at the grand scheme of things. There’s kiss-offs to those that wronged you, but also tunes that look at individual action and try to see the viewpoint of another. The quiet and droney title-track, which ended the show literally asked “If past you were to meet future me/Would you be holding me here and now?”
Sometimes these questions can lead to apathy or aimless anger and Dacus can channel that into something productive, or at least recognize that avoidance is part of life too. The final, unrecorded tune of the night was a perfect send-off that found empowerment in allowing its character to get angry at a deadbeat father. The Lucy Dacus project is remarkably mature and as its writer continues forward, it feels like she’s only honing that weapon.