Review: Lucy Dacus: ‘Home Video’

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Home Video is a stunning collection of delicate coming-of-age moments packed with emotional vulnerability and scenic poetry. Lucy Dacus, 26, brings to life nostalgic tales of her Christian youth camp days, friends dating subpar boys, awkward firsts and confused teens replacing pop culture references for a personality.   Presumably, the effectiveness comes from the way she read through her teenage diaries on the road towards the finished product. In reflecting on the past, she has masterfully (and perhaps unintentionally) created a looking glass for listeners to project their own teenage emotions and formative experiences onto. 

The charm of these songs comes from Lucy’s conversational tone, wit and self-awareness. “First Time” finds Lucy confessing, “I am just the fool you took me for.” She professes via Apple Music that the song explores discovering “your body and your emotional capacity” for the first time and the fear that you’ll never feel that way again. Then she admits, “I haven’t–but I have felt other wonderful things.” “Partner in Crime” reminisces on her early relationship with an older someone; Dacus make her first experimental step into autotune, describing her desire to pretend and act older. In a casual voice, she sings, “You drop a hint that you got a girlfriend / I tried my best not to take it” over distorted guitars. 

Home Video is a glimpse at art that is so personal, intimate and vivid that the stories it tells become approachable, cozy and universal. As you zoom into the picture, you find that there’s details that you can latch onto and make yours. Its diverse palette and keen observations enables one to shapeshift. Sometimes, you feel like the songs are about you, and sometimes, you feel like you’re Lucy and you’re seeing your friends through her interpretation. In “Please Stay,” the first verse describes the unkempt house of an individual struggling to find a reason to stay alive. The outro, assisted by her boygenius bandmates, sings pleadingly and desperately for the subject of the song to do anything but leave. In another song (“Christine”), Lucy describes the way her friend justifies staying with a boy who doesn’t treat her right. With unadulterated honesty, Lucy confesses that she would risk losing her friends respect to stop them getting married if it came down to it. Throughout each song, both the observer and the subject are continuously done justice in this way.

In the end, I can’t help but wonder how it must feel for the people in Lucy’s life to hear the songs that tell their stories, to hear their worlds come alive in a picture book painted by someone else entirely. In some ways, as a listener, it feels invasive to realize that these songs implicate real people. The consequences of putting these songs out into the world are genuine and to some degree, change how one consumes them. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone Music Now, Lucy describes the anxiety of anticipating to hear from the subjects of her songs. She confesses that the subject of “Brando” contacted her after the song was released and expressed hurt. On the other hand, “Thumbs” and “Christine” are two songs that she asked for permission to record from the people it’s about. Songs like “Triple Dog Dare,” “Cartwheel,” and “VBS” could still be conversations waiting to happen between Lucy and the people she is singing to, which is the price paid for hyper-specificity. She acknowledges that some of these conversations she welcomes and others she would dread but leaves you guessing as to which category they fall under.

When the world shut down in March 2020, we were forced to spend time thinking about the past because there was literally nothing else to do. There was nothing happening in the now and nothing to look towards or anticipate. Although recorded before quarantine, Home Video somehow captures this feeling, at least for me. This album is unique in that it reflects on pivotal moments in one’s life from the end of the road, yet the distance isn’t so far that the details have become hazy, and the aftereffects have been lost during interpretation.

Home Video is available for listening on all streaming platforms.

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