Cian Ducrot is a tried-and-true practitioner of the singer-songwriter genre. His lyrical approach is refined and polished against the same undertones as his predecessors, which are quite easy to pinpoint as soon as his debut album Victory comes through your headphones. It’s immediately reminiscent of Lewis Capaldi, Dermont Kennedy, and early Ed Sheeran. Of this, Ducrot is well aware. His perspective on comparisons shifting throughout his career from this good to this is bad to this is unavoidable—lo and behold, it is.
It is as much a triumph (pun intended) as it is a familial anthology. Ducrot’s strength on this album is the way he speaks of not just himself but of his people. It’s an early look at a singer-songwriter who isn’t just introspective but deftly extrospective. The title track is a crash course on his childhood as a child of separated parents with an unloving father. He teeters between a humorously deterministic tone (“got a note from my doctor, he said to not even bother / because when you’re messed up as a kid you’ll pass it on to your daughter”) and promising resignation (”learn to live by the glory of knowing it doesn’t hold me and choke me”).
Ducrot has been through a lot, but he “made it”, which is, of course, a vaguely over-optimistic phrase we use that could mean anything from “survived” to “achieved their dreams” to “became famous” as if progress is linear and one-dimensional. By most standards, Ducrot has achieved all of this (and he lets you know that). Hence, his debut album is called Victory. On the conclusive “Heaven”, Ducrot sings “Are we in heaven heaven heaven? / ‘cause I don’t feel pain / I guess that this is heaven, heaven, heaven”, aptly backed by a church choir. Throughout the record, one hears Ducrot’s pain and his redemption. He pays homage to Sheeran, who chose Ducrot as his opener, bragging ”Well, now you’ve got a kid, I’m with Ed on tour / in cities I’ve never been”, which is where Ducrot’s redemption is briefly tied to his newfound success as an artist.
However, “Hevean”, above all is an ode to his brother and their camaraderie, as “Step Dad” is an ode to his stepfather, “Mama” is an ode to his mother, and “Blame It On You” is a accusatory letter to, presumably, his biological father. Ducrot’s victory never belongs to solely him. He gracefully gives each family member their own moment on the record, emphasizing their togetherness and how it made them tougher (”You tore us apart, but we ended up stronger”). On “Step Dad”, Ducrot hails his stepfather for raising Ducrot and his family out of the pain and grief into a brighter future. Unsurprisingly, as noted in a press conference, Ducrot is most excited to perform “Mama” and “Step Dad” for the first time during his live tour, highlighting that above all else his family stands at the center of his work and his story.
Ducrot’s classical background is one of the strongest points of this record. He leans heavily into orchestral arrangements and choral ensembles, even releasing a new orchestra & choir version of several songs off his album. The sonic landscape is intricately designed where new pieces to explore emerge in each listen. On “Mama” Ducrot’s layered vocals add depth. On “Endless Nights”, a piano ballad intro transforms to an upbeat pop tune with a cello and piano, hints of Ducrot’s Irish heritage peeking through in the music as he reckons with heartbreak. On “Everyone Who Fall In Love”, where Ducrot considers the baggage previous relationships leave behind, the bass and guitar anchor the track and leave a haunting and aching aftertaste.
In Victory, Ducrot is an open book with a clear vision, which gives the album a more focused feel than his earlier mixtape and EP. His sentimentality sometimes borders on cliché, but his delivery and the overall production lead to a stunning final package. Despite not feeling like a good lyricist, Ducrot has a knack for tugging at heartstrings. Ducrot has even caught the attention of SZA, who tagged him to co-write a track for the (unseen) deluxe version of her highly successful SOS. He will spend the remainder of the year touring around the United States and Europe to support his debut album. Ducrot’s musicality leads to a refreshing take on a genre that can sometimes feel over-saturated. Victory is a deeply personal and intimate account of life, which also makes it a versatile and universal record.
Buket is recent graduate of the University of Georgia (Music Business Alum) and the current Editor-in-Chief of Vinyl Mag. She believes that a sincere lover of music can find something to like in just about any song. She loves to write to observe and learn about the world. She is currently on a gap year abroad, spending her free time drumming up new ideas for Vinyl Mag and trying to beat her previous Spotify Wrapped "My Minutes Listened" record.