Singer/songwriter Lucy Dacus’ rich, buttery voice commands both her thoughtful indie rock tunes and more intimate confessionals. Emerging from Richmond, Virginia’s indie scene in the mid-2010s, she broke through the blogosphere and onto major indie outlets with lead single “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore” from her 2016 debut album, No Burden. It showcased the songwriter’s playful and also heartrendingly candid way with words. The critical success of the more dramatic follow-up Historian in 2018 was followed the same year by membership in Boygenius, a trio with similarly lauded contemporaries Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers. Dacus’ more tender and more autobiographical third solo album, Home Video, arrived in 2021.
Born and raised in Mechanicsville just outside of Richmond, Dacus grew up singing; her mother was a music teacher. She began writing regularly in her journal in the sixth grade and attended concerts and connected with the Richmond music scene throughout high school. After graduating, she tried studying film at Virginia Commonwealth University with a plan to make music on the side, but soon dropped out to concentrate on writing songs.
Dacus’ debut was put together relatively last-minute when a friend who worked at Starstruck Studio in Nashville let her know they had an open day. She had assembled a band from area musicians in guitarist Jacob Blizard, bass player Christine Moad, and drummer Hayden Cotcher, and the songs, which had been written solo, were arranged for the quartet in the week leading up to a ten-hour recording session. The friend at the studio, Collin Pastore, engineered and mixed the album, which was co-produced by Dacus, Pastore, and Blizard. Richmond label Egghunt Records took interest in the results, including late 2015′s “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore,” and released No Burden in early 2016.
The album quickly received buzz in the indie music press, and the band did an Audiotree Live session in March that was released as a digital EP. That June, the 21-year-old Dacus signed with Matador Records, which reissued No Burden in September 2016. She then toured with acts including the Decemberists, Sylvan Esso, and Car Seat Headrest before returning to the studio with the same team to record her second album. Featuring a similar demeanor but fleshier arrangements, Historian saw release in March 2018 and reached number five on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart. Later that year, Dacus formed the collaborative indie supergroup Boygenius with fellow singer/songwriters Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers, releasing a self-titled EP in October and then embarking on a three-way co-headlining tour.
On Valentine’s Day 2019, Dacus released a cover of Édith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose,” the first in a series of holiday-themed original songs and covers that coincided with select occasions throughout the year. They were collected on the EP 2019, issued by Matador that November. During 2020, Dacus started writing and recording her third album, which looked back at her coming-of-age experiences for lyrical inspiration. The resulting Home Video was released in June 2021 and accompanied by opening slots for Bright Eyes and Shakey Graves as well as a headlining tour. The critically acclaimed LP appeared on several charts both at home and abroad. The tongue in cheek “Kissing Lessons,” which was recorded during the sessions for Home Video, appeared on Valentine’s Day the following year. ~ Marcy Donelson