Lucy Dacus’s autobiographical third album displays her versatility

September 9, 2021 — by Sarah Thomas

Indie rock artist Lucy Dacus recently returned to making music after a 3-year hiatus, venturing to new genres and topics in her newest album, “Home Video”, which was released on June 25th, 2021.

Dacus’s album consists of 11 deeply personal tracks, exploring her teenage years, friendships, identity as a queer woman and complicated relationship with religion through the lens of growing up in a small town.

Most audiences might recognize her from the single “Night Shift” from her album “Historian.” One of her most celebrated lyrics is this song’s outro, in which she sings, “You got a 9 to 5, so I’ll take the night shift / And I’ll never see you again if I can help it.” Through this project, Dacus established herself as a talented lyricist, as many of her fans enjoyed both the simplicity of this song’s melody and her ability to describe complex feelings in an uncomplicated and relatable way.

Unlike Dacus’s past projects, “Home Video” is shorter and more direct. She employs a tighter rhyme scheme, which is reflected in the opening track, “Hot and Heavy,” a song that delves into feelings of hometown nostalgia. On this track, she sings, “being back here makes me hot in the face.” This line not only describes her mixed emotions about returning home but indicates that writing this album forced Dacus to recall painful and humiliating memories. 

The word “hot” foreshadows the dramatic challenges in her life that are collectively addressed later in the album, such as grappling with her religious upbringing and heartbreaks. The listeners experience the hardships alongside her through the mellow, rhythmic musicality and emotionally engaging lyrics. 

Dacus also disclosed that this album was written differently than her first two: She used to write songs about more generic events in her life, but most of the tracks on “Home Video” are about a specific moment that greatly impacted her.

One of the central themes of the album is friendship, and the track, “Cartwheel,” tackles how relationships grow apart as people mature and change. Lyrics like “I’d sit by you, silent on the curb / What to say when there is not a word?”  paints Dacus’s difficulty at accepting that she’s grown apart from many of her friends as their paths diverged. Dacus’s choice to use the only guitar and vocal harmonies as backing tracks allow her intense lyrics to shine even brighter and embody a sense of loneliness.

Another track, “Christine,” discusses Dacus’s commitment to her existing friendships. She sings “but if you get married, I’d object / Throw my shoe at the altar and lose your respect.” The image of her drastic attempt to save her friend from an unhealthy relationship gives this otherwise calm song another layer. This track provides a glimpse into Dacus’s character, revealing Dacus’ turbulent and emotional side that resonates with listeners.

One of the more serious songs on the album is a raw piece entitled “Triple Dog Dare” that describes Dacus’s struggle with her queer identity while being raised Christian. Dacus deals with feelings of guilt and regret before ultimately choosing to run away. Her decision to repeat the ending phrase as the instrumental grows quieter allows listeners to internalize the last, impactful line: “Nothing worse could happen now,” ending the album in a reflective, depressing tone.

Unfortunately, this album has not been as well received as her previous album, “Historian.” Some critics argued that the intensity and passion that was present throughout her past two albums only appeared in two or three tracks on “Home Video.” Although it was more concise than her previous albums, Dacus lost a lot of her signature sound by transitioning away from alternative rock and towards indie-pop.  Regardless, I think this album showcases her personal and professional growth. Dacus admitted that this album helped her be more honest with herself, as it allowed her to tackle her insecurities and past in a way she hadn’t ever before. 

I appreciated this album as much as “Historian” and it deserves a 3.5 out of 5 Falcons. This album feels like a glance into her childhood, with the same warmth, personality and vulnerability you would expect from a piece of work titled “Home Video.” 

The album is also versatile enough to cater to many different tastes, with songs that are both energetic and emotional. Listening to this album leaves fans with a hopeful takeaway – even if thinking about the past is sometimes difficult, they’ll eventually be able to look at memories with fondness and even grow from them.