Lucy Dacus - Historian
Critic Score
Based on 22 reviews
2018 Ratings: #162 / 841
Year End Rank: #40
User Score
Based on 469 ratings
2018 Ratings: #86
Liked by 23 people
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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.

Spectrum Culture

This is such a strong follow-up statement that it renders even the slightest hint of the proverbial “sophomore slump” null and void. Historian is one of the first truly great albums of 2018.


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.

FLOOD Magazine

Where her first album was an exploration, this one is a proclamation.

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.
It’s a dark but graceful rock album – or perhaps a heavy singer-songwriter one – with songs that are at times intensely, almost uncomfortably personal.
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.

Even more exquisite than her first, Lucy Dacus' second studio album, Historian, is a triumphant return for one of rock's most promising and exciting figures out now.

Just like No Burden, Historian is full of exceptionally well-written and personal pieces of songwriting, something that Lucy is capable of creating, all while exuding a sense of humor and wisdom I have yet to see elsewhere in my music-listening endeavors. Everything I loved about her first album is expanded upon even further here: ... read more
tl;dr: i love it

I have no idea what I was thinking when I just thought Night Shift was head and shoulders above everything else on this album back in 2018. Upon a long overdue revisit, all of Historian has such surprising power as Dacus utilizes every guitar strum she can muster to endure the throes of personal doom and gloom. It’s a a real tour de force of indie rock/singer-songwriter honesty, one that’s just as likely to smash you to pieces as it is to comfort you. So excited to ... read more
i am, clearly, an easy sell for sad indie bitches. this suggestion actually comes from my sister, and i trust her judgement more than most people’s. knowing that, i was pretty confident that i’d like this and i did. Lucy has a great voice and top-notch songwriting talent backed with gorgeous instrumentals that shine when they’re at both their loudest and most delicate. there wasn’t a song i didn’t enjoy.

i guess i gotta listen to boygenius now?

Favorites: ... read more
The depth of Historian took me a bit to realize. This is a record that is embedded in my soul.

From the moment the album opens with Night Shift, we’re blessed with a song that is two distinct parts that function brilliantly as a vision statement for the album. The first 3 minutes of the song could be a track in and of themself, but adding the whole end section brings this into total top tier songwriting territory. Fortunately, she continues with ambitious song structure with each song ... read more
Thoughts about death have been taking sleep from me lately... this album really put into words everything I've been thinking for the past few weeks
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Added on: December 12, 2017