Lucy Dacus - Historian
Critic Score
Based on 16 reviews
2018 Ratings: #24 / 134
User Score
Based on 110 ratings
2018 Ratings: #7
Your Review


The 405

Historian is a complete album, cavernous in its emotional depths and regally sophisticated in its songwriting, yet palatably relatable at the point of contact. It’s a work of perfectly realised ambition in which anyone who’s ever waded the swamp of heartache can recognise themselves.

Drowned in Sound

You know you have a classic on your hands when, after the umpteenth spin, you start looking for the tour dates, and try to reason your way to a gig. Like the fabled plane of songs, Historian feels like a universe that exists before time, somewhere to reach up to when you need to express something greater than yourself. And Dacus shows us the way, with grace and patience and the quiet confidence of writers twice her age.

The Line of Best Fit

As impressive as No Burden was on its own merits, independent of and regardless of its creator’s youth, inexperience, and slapdash conception, Historian is a monolith of American songwriting. Lucy Dacus strikes peerlessly at the core of our emotions at once with wit and gravity, loftiness and plain-spokenness.


It’s a rare artist who has a voice so compelling, and rarer still are the ones who learn so early on how to use it. At 23, Dacus has already made a career album with Historian, and she’s really only just getting started.

Each track here contains subtle musical inflections that are almost unbelievable in their execution. Only her sophomore LP, 'Historian', with its myriad, sprawling textures, feels like a seasoned artist's magnum opus -- not a ten-track, forty-seven minute gem whose emotional resonance flirts with the sublime.
Under The Radar
The naked crystallized truths she unearths in each song prod the soul intrusively, often instilling those familiar physical jolts inside your chest when severe heartbreak hits.

As Historian adds new elements to Dacus’ music—strings, horns, vocal effects, and spoken word samples appear here alongside guitars, drums, and bass—it also finds the Virginia songwriter plumbing new thematic depths and broadening her stage.

It's an intricate record, one filled with peaks and valleys, high points and low. It gets a little messy at times, but it finds beauty in it all.
Even as Lucy deals with massive topics including death, hope, and major life transitions, she offers listeners entry points back into their own worlds, all while strengthening her already taut grip on rustling, soul-blemished rock.
The 10 track ‘Historian’ is far bigger, meatier beast than its predecessor. Recorded in Nashville, this is a rock’n’roll album with deep understanding of pop melody but layered up with bold lyrics which disarm you as much as they connect with you.
Rolling Stone

For all its keen lyricism, Historian ultimately floats on a sea of fuzz, rich with small melodic details and the sort of glorious guitar heroics that indie rock is often much too modest for.

Northern Transmissions
Though Dacus doesn’t always match expectations or tighten things up, she never fails to create moments worth hearing.
A.V. Club

Historian stumbles occasionally, with some songs taking a while to get up the hill, but it’s rewarding because it carries such weight and commands such attention.

Lucy Dacus has here achieved what she set out to do, marking her place as a brutally honest songwriter who isn’t afraid to go to the darker sides of humanity to find her truth. Her engaging lyrics remain her true strength. But in her quest to perfect this mission statement, the urgent spark present in her debut has dimmed just a little.
Ultimately, the forte passages don't encroach on the songwriting, as they underline emotion, but they do, at times, step on Dacus' voice, when she's clouded by high-volume accompaniment or even vocal processing. Thankfully, those moments are brief and rare, allowing her lyrics and expressive sense of melody to shine.
No Ripcord

On its own, Historian is a solid indie rock record: enjoyable, though not particularly memorable. It’s as though Dacus’s best parts have been filtered through a focus group – just imagine what it could have been with the patina scraped off.

Mar 5, 2018
'Historian' is a step up from Lucy Dacus's already remarkable debut. She could be a straight-up rock star if she wanted to, but she opts instead to dial it back and let these stories play out their time. What results is a smart, holistic work with velvet production and uniquely gorgeous vocals.
Mar 17, 2018
Some of us humans are simply born to be deep, and Lucy Dacus shows she is one of those people with this album of hers. Never mind her young age, obvious influences, and acoustic sameness; Dacus worked on a deeper plane than what we normally come across in everyday life, which is a great skill/inherent behavior to have as a musician. That’s not to stay there wasn’t naivety that crept into the songwriting, and at times the overall simplicity of the harmonic progressions and thin ... read more
Mar 15, 2018
Powerfully restrained in its sound—Historian is LD honing and improving her sound. Album art is trash.
Mar 12, 2018
wasn’t expecting much but night shift hit me where it hurts
Mar 12, 2018
holy shit this took me as a surprise, I was anticipating this album but had no idea I would enjoy it this much
Purchasing Historian from Amazon helps support Album of the Year.
Track List
  1. Night Shift
  2. Addictions
  3. The Shell
  4. Nonbeliever
  5. Yours & Mine
  6. Body to Flame
  7. Timefighter
  8. Next of Kin
  9. Pillar of Truth
  10. Historians

Added on: December 12, 2017