Live Review: Lucy Dacus @ Teragram Ballroom, March 22, 2018
These are boom times for singer-songwriters, almost all of them ladies, young, wise beyond their years, armed with electric guitars and rafts of rich, personal, insightful, often moving lyrics. Enter Lucy Dacus, inching up to the front of the class with an engaging full band performance to a fairly packed Teragram Ballroom this past drizzly Thursday.
Backed tightly by able players–Sadie Powers, holding down a steady low end on the rare fretless electric bass; Jacob Blizard, on tastefully effected atmospheric electric guitar; Ricardo Lagomasino, providing restraint and punch behind the drum kit–the Richmond 22-year-old presented Historian, her excellent new sophomore LP, with a large continuous chunk making up the first half of the set list.
Dacus is a steady presence on stage, a crafty open chord guitarist with a knowing, calm, honeyed voice (descriptions of which have become something of a thing in the writing about her; though none can be surpassed by this one from renowned woodworker Nick Offerman). She saves raising that special voice for moments for maximum impact, such as the “If my throat can’t sing then my soul screams out to you!” in “Pillar of Truth” or the climax of “Night Shift,” two standouts from Historian. Her gift of craft and arrangement in her songs shine through all the more in the live setting as the dynamics widen.
It’s not quite folk or “indie” but a mostly mellow, even keel light rock. There are satisfying louder bits, such as the driving riff of “I Don’t Want to be Funny Anymore” or the fiery solo of “Yours & Mine.” Overall, this is not the weepy stuff of some of her peers, though there is a self-awareness and empathy that courses though the songs that connects with her young leaning audience, several of which mouth lyrics along with her.
They close the night, as Historian closes, with “Historians,” just Blizard and Dacus, minus her guitar. A quieter moment with a heavy lyric that touches on bigger questions of legacy and dying and who records one’s history (e.g., “historians”) that sends us home on a more solemn, reflective note.
Earlier, she commented on how this was only their second show here and that L.A. was a big deal (you flatter us; really, this town is no big deal) and clearly humbled by the enthusiastic response from the good sized room. Something tells me, though, the next time through town, the room will be even bigger.
NB: She’s known for her activism and took time out to plug Art 180, a nonprofit in Richmond, that puts on art programs for young people living in challenging conditions, for whom she’s collecting donations at her merch table this tour. Check it out here if you are so inclined.
Lucy Dacus | lucydacus.com