The Inquiring Reader
Reviews, critiques, and thoughts


by Lucy Dacus

reviewed by Jon Duelfer

Listen to the album

If past you were to meet future me,
would you be holding me here and now?

Historian is an album of deep, mellow vocals that morph into distorted guitar riffs and headbanging crescendos. Lucy Dacus’s voice is mesmerizing; she fluctuates seamlessly between melancholy and powerful.


The highlight of the album is its first song, Night Shift.

It kicks off with simple chords and Dacus’s voice mellow and beautiful. She finds out her partner is cheating on her. She’s upset and is unsure of how to proceed.

Am I a masochistic?
Resisting urges to punch you in the teeth?

She sings that she “feels no need to forgive, but I might as well” as she leaves. Drums, bass, and another guitar pick up as she considers what her life will be like from here on out.

The sad, melancholy tone turns brightens as the drums and bass fade.

You take the nine to five,
I’ll take the night shift.
And I’ll never see you again,
If I can help it.

Distortion rages in for the second repetition of the chorus. I found myself entranced and banging my head. Her voice both highers and gets more powerful – a great combination.

The rest

The rest of the album continues with love and loss in a humorously cynical tone. Each song has a smooth melody. The bridges always blew me away. In Addictions, Dacus sings:

Buy low,
sell high,
kind of guy.
your time,
in what’s worthwhile.

In The Shell, she moves away from relationships and more towards existentialism. She sings:

You don’t want to be a creator
doesn’t mean, you’ve got nothing to say.
Put down the pen,
don’t let it force your hand.

In Nonbeliever, she sings “everybody else looks like they figured it out.”

Trumpets, keyboards, and violins are introduced. At times, it reminds me of Neutral Milk Hotel. At others, something between The White Stripes and Alabama Shakes. But it’s always original and moving.

Timefighter also stood out from the other songs.

After a series of slower, softer songs, Timefighter breaks through with a deep, bluesy base and Dacus’s voice just as deep and bluesy. A sweet guitar riff cuts through the verses. The chorus swings to be melodic, but then a distorted guitar rips through and my head got to rocking again.

Final Thoughts

I was gripped as soon as I heard “you take the nine to five” from the Night Shift. I enjoyed the rest of the album, but it did take a listen or two to fully grow on me. A couple choruses and bridges are a little too jumbled and incoherent, but the vast majority of the album is spot on.

I love both Dacus’s voice and her lyrics. I was happy to come across this album. Although I’m two years late to the party, I’m a big fan. Dacus joined Boygenius with Julien Baker in 2018 and released an EP. I recommend that as well, although it is way more mellow that the Historian.