Lucy Dacus' Look to Her Past on 'Home Video' Heralds Her Bright Future

BY Dylan BarnabePublished Jun 21, 2021

There's no place like home. Though, for 26-year-old indie star Lucy Dacus, who shot to fame after the successes of both 2016's No Burden and 2018's Historian, home has become more of a symbolic pursuit than an actual physical place. On her third album, Home Video, Dacus turns back the hands of time and returns to her roots as she chronicles the bittersweet tales of growing up in Richmond, VA.

The album is a starkly honest and unabashed look at what it means to find your footing, fall in love and forge your own path. Opener "Hot & Heavy" immediately places us in Dacus' shoes, home at last: "Being back here makes me hot in the face / hot blood in my pulsing veins / heavy memories weighing on my brain." The physical and mental effects of her homecoming are palpable and set the tone for the album.

Throughout the following 10 tracks, she deftly manoeuvres the intersections of identity, religion, sexuality, loss and longing with vulnerability and compassion well beyond her years. While some artists might wade too deep into the pool of full-blown nostalgia, Dacus manages to pull off an impressive level of self-awareness that anchors her firmly in the present, looking back openly on memories from a safe distance.

Dacus has long been heralded for her ability as a raconteur, and Home Video further cements this reputation. It is a deeply personal album filled with raw vignettes of young adulthood that claw at our collective consciousness. She strips back her usual edge and slows down to a gentle pulse, ceding centre stage to the hushed intimacy of her most tightly held memories.

Given the famous state slogan "Virginia is for lovers!," it's hardly surprising that matters of the heart figure prominently on Home Video. "Triple Dog Dare" explores forbidden queer love in the Bible Belt, "Partner in Crime" tells of a breaking curfew to meet up with an older love interest, and "Christine" achingly documents losing a close friend to a problematic relationship. Interactions as simple as the boy from Bible camp whose "poetry was so bad / It took a lot to not laugh" or the "sweaty palms, averted eyes" that accompany first butterflies bring back the pangs of being young at heart.

This is not without small glimpses of Dacus' sly sense of humour. On "Brando", for example, she teases mercilessly: "You called me cerebral, I didn't know what you meant / but now I do, would it have killed you to call me pretty instead?" Long-term fans will also be happy to finally see the inclusion of "Thumbs" as part of the official track list, as well as see Dacus joined by the voices of her boygenius bandmates, Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker, on the choruses of "Please Stay" and "Going Going Gone."

There's no doubt that Dacus has become one of this generation's singular songwriters. Like Bridgers and Baker, her talent for tapping into the universal through song is remarkably potent. While Dacus sings of the future as a "benevolent black hole" on "Cartwheel," it's clear that her future shines bright.  
(Matador Records)

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