Three years after the release of Historian, American indie-rock singer Lucy Dacus returns with a collection of captivating, intimate songs which make up her latest album, Home Video.
While vocal cameos are made by boy genius members Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker, there is no doubt that this is a Lucy Dacus release, as the songwriting is deeply personal, with a confessional style to it. The album opener ‘Hot & Heavy’ starts off slow but becomes a powerful, pulsing track. It is at once nostalgic and bittersweet, as Dacus recounts how the people around her have changed, particularly through the lyrics “You used to be so sweet / Now you’re a firecracker on a crowded street.’”
‘Christine’, by contrast, is a highly emotional, softer piano-heavy ballad—an almost musical diary entry that allows the listener an insight into Dacus’s thoughts and feelings.
‘First Time’ is a percussion-heavy song, reflecting on the awkwardness of teenage relationships, though Dacus shows a level of compassion towards her past self when she sings “I can’t undo what I’ve done, and I wouldn’t want to”.
‘VBS’ is full of twanging guitars, taking the listener to Vacation Bible School, as Dacus sings about her first boyfriend. It’s a simple song but sometimes the simplest songs have the power to stop you in your tracks.
‘Cartwheel’ has a warmer, acoustic feel to it than the previous tracks as Dacus eases the listener into the latter half of the album. ‘Thumbs’, a staple of the singer’s live shows (and the subject of its very own Twitter account @releasethumbs), is a heavy story that is communicated perfectly through the minimal arrangements and Dacus’s impactful, unflinching vocals. The final words “you don’t owe him shit even if he said you did” linger, at once a sentiment for a friend and for anyone who needs to hear it.
‘Going Going Gone’ is a slower, softer track—with vocal accompaniments from Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker— which allows the listener to immerse themselves in the awkward teenage romance at play. The vocal harmonies are rich and compliment each other perfectly.
‘Partner in Crime’ is full of synths and heavy guitar, the auto-tuned vocals giving this track a different edge to the previous songs. ‘Brando’ is littered with strumming guitars and tongue-in-cheek lyrics, as Dacus recounts an old love and how fantasy and reality—of this person and their romance—doesn’t match up.
The penultimate track on the album, ‘Please Stay’, is simple, stripped-back, and yet the most impactful track on the album. The track feels heavy yet Dacus’s vocals are soft and unwavering. The final track, ‘Triple Dog Dare’, launches the listener into a young, queer romance. It’s a song about connection, loss, longing, and relief. In a year that’s been full of uncertainty and hopelessness, the soaring, screeching ending of this track feels like letting go of the breath we’ve been holding for ages.
Home Video is a triumph of a third album from Dacus. Like many of us this year, she looks back on her past to provide an album that is sensitive, vulnerable but also soothing and comforting. Through the varied musical and vocal arrangements employed, Dacus is not only able to show how much care has gone into the making of this album but she also shows the flawed, vulnerable side to herself and suggests that we should not be afraid to show these sides of ourselves either.
Words by Jen Rose
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