In both her solo work and Boygenius, Lucy Dacus is one of the most essential songwriters and performers of 2018.
Lucy Dacus’ “Night Shift” appeared on our critics poll songs list at No. 5. Check out the poll here and read our thoughts on the song and her current impact on culture.
Before I wrote about music, I was an archival researcher. Last fall, I spent 20 hours a week in the paper archives at my university, going through the artifacts and piecing together an argument, and I spent the spring organizing it into a coherent piece of writing. We often think of “history” as meaning something far-off and distant, but digging through archives of printed-out emails, scribbled notes, and typos made me realize something. History isn’t just the wars and presidents in books, or the lore of family stories. Petty arguments, work annoyances, the sting of a breakup — these leave traces and trails as well. Nothing is too small to deserve the attention of a well-trained historian.
Lucy Dacus took notes and catalogued all of 2018. Her second studio album, Historian, is a triumph of storytelling in beautifully rendered detail. Listening to Historian is a thrill of discovery — I’d say she’s a rock legend in the making, but honestly she’s already there.
The album’s opener, “ Night Shift,” pieces together the shards from a broken relationship, weaving a tapestry of hurt and humor that establishes Dacus as one of the best songwriters working today. Each verse describes a different impossible post-breakup task — dealing with jealousy for your ex’s new lover, chiding them for not appreciating you enough, avoiding and rebuilding and taking the “night shift” so you don’t pass cross paths again. “Night Shift” starts slow and crackling, and reaches fiery catharsis by the end of its six and a half minutes. It’s the single most impressive song of 2018. I listened to it on repeat during my research, in awe of the accuracy of her documenting this feeling. It’s been a full year since “Night Shift” was released as a single, and its magic still hasn’t worn off.

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