WHEN LUCY DACUS sings “I don’t wanna be funny anymore” on the opening track of her debut full-length, No Burden, she delivers it with a little lilt on the final syllable. “I hurt my friends saying things I don’t mean out loud,” she sings. Dacus, at 21 years old, is barely removed from the rigors of the adolescent roll call. This song, she explains, decries yet scrambles for the comfort of social roles.
“Everybody tends to feel really weird at that age,” Dacus says of the teenaged daze. “Some people are wanting the titles they’re given or are trying to be a certain trope, and some people don’t want to be the trope they’re assigned.”
Later in “I Don’t Want to Be Funny Anymore,” Dacus explores the other identities she’d like to claim, voicing a desire to be someone else at all times: “I’ve got a too-short skirt, maybe I can be the cute one/Is there room in the band? I don’t need to be the front man/If not, then I’ll be the biggest fan.”
Since releasing No Burden, Dacus has gone from being unknown outside her hometown of Richmond, Virginia, to catching the attention of national press outlets. After playing as a solo artist for about a year and a half, Dacus’ friend asked her join a recording project in Nashville. The resultant 20-hour session yielded the entirety of No Burden, with Dacus performing the songs with a full band. Originally released on a small label in Richmond, No Burden is being given the full reissue treatment by venerable indie monolith Matador Records in early September.
The richness of Dacus’ voice entangles you from the start—a sultry drawl in the timbre of Sharon Van Etten, with a subtle frailty not unlike her friend (and current tourmate) Julien Baker. “Strange Torpedo,” another standout on the record, booms in a darkly resonant manner, exploring the poetic minutiae of a painful relationship. The song traverses heart-wrenching bends in its musical arrangement to support the catharsis of Dacus’ confessional wordplay.
“I write all the lyrics and melodies first, so once the meaning is already there we try to arrange according to the lyrics,” she says. “It helps people listen if the music acts as punctuation to the meaning of the song.”