Lucy Dacus, “No Burden”

Lucy DacusLucy_Dacus-2016-No_Burden
No Burden
MATADOR
6/10

Twenty-one-year-old Lucy Dacus introduces herself by way of “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore,” the first song on her debut album, No Burden. “I’ll read the books and I’ll be the smartest / I’ll play guitar and I’ll be the artist,” she sings. “Try not to laugh, I know it’ll be hard.” It’s not. Dacus makes for a rather impressive artist, having observed enough about herself and her friends while being the funny one to compose a smart, resonant album. No Burden came out in February on EggHunt Records, a label out of Dacus’s hometown of Richmond, Virginia. Since then, she’s signed to Matador, and the album is getting a digital release along with a CD/LP repress later this year.

No Burden is what would happen if your quietest, most thoughtful friend from college ran her journal through an electric guitar and a distortion pedal. It’s incredibly earnest, concerned, and kind. Some of the lyrical material is a little clumsy (“If beauty is the only way to make the nightmares go away / I’ll plant a garden in your brain and let the roots absorb the pain”), but mostly, it’s so insightful it hurts: “If you want to see the world, you have to say goodbye.” “Strange Torpedo” is a highlight; it’s a fast-paced, catchy assessment of a friend walking a very thin line, a friend we’ve all had: “You are one of a kind, I cannot lie / You’re wild when your body’s in overdrive / And I’m more surprised every time you’re alive when I check for your breath in the morning.”

On “Dream State…,” Dacus alternates between the two phrases “Without you, I am surely the last of my kind” and “Without you, I am surely the last of our kind,” repeating the lines like a mantra and doubling herself vocally. She does feel like something of a rarity, stripped as she is of sarcasm, irony, and funny business. She sings about trying not to fall in love with everyone she meets, about reinventing herself, about friends she’s afraid of losing to something bigger than she is—which is to say that she is all of us at her age.

 

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