Lucy Dacus

2019

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After releasing her widely acclaimed sophomore album, Historian, in 2018, indie singer/songwriter Lucy Dacus returned on Valentine's Day of 2019 with a cover of the Édith Piaf classic "La Vie en Rose." Loyally wistful but vitalized with a simmering, eighth-note guitar pulse and full drums, Dacus' version develops into something lively and shimmering, though it's steered, as usual, by her distinctly unassuming, custard-rich vocals. More song releases, all associated with holidays or special occasions, followed throughout the year, culminating in the seven-track EP 2019. The last one to be revealed -- a melancholy, New Year-themed original called "Fool's Gold" -- opens the track list with an intimate tone, squeaky fretboard navigation, and the line "I drank the dregs of the champagne alone." With a thoughtful heavy-heartedness established, New Year's and Valentine's Day lead into the Mother's Day offering "My Mother & I," an original song and EP highlight. Spare and both comforting and yearning, it starts with only arpeggiated guitar and Dacus explaining "My mother hates her body/We share the same outline/She swears that she loves mine." While exploring connection and affection, the song gently swells, adding another vocal track and ghostly keyboards before ending with the striking couplet "All is forgiven/All is forsaken." A final Dacus song, "Forever Half Mast," corresponds to Independence Day before the EP closes with three covers. A fairly routine "Dancing in the Dark" honors Bruce Springsteen's birthday (also her father's) and is followed by a fascinating Halloween selection in a dramatic version of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" which, being high-contrast and uncanny to begin with, doesn't deviate far from the original. The EP's big payoff track is a completely reimagined "Last Christmas" that delivers a punky, fuzzy bop with retro-fashioned spoken word segments. Easily surpassing a thematic exercise, 2019 has some essential original material by Dacus -- particularly "My Mother & I" -- and a handful of covers that are bound to provide a lasting preferred version (or two) for fans.

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