I had never heard Lucy Dacus before “Addictions” was released as a single off her March 2 album, Historian (Matador). Her 2016 debut went right by me, so the restrained voice I was hearing, backed by this subtly grinding lead guitar and hippity-skippity percussion (and were those horns?) was an utter novelty. “Huh,” I thought. “That’s solid.” Last.fm tells me that I played “Addictions” 30 times in 2018, one of over 150 times I played a song off Historian in my kitchen, in my car, or on the train. I couldn’t stop.
Every song on it is a gem. Elements emerge and then recede, and songs grow inside other songs (the title reference to “Night Shift” doesn’t come until three minutes and 20 seconds into the song, and it’s, like, a whole new thing. The second repetition of it knocks you off your chair). “Nonbeliever” is probably my favorite song of 2018, and its late-verse echo, “everybody else looks like they’ve figured it out” feels like my year’s tagline. For my church music friends, “Pillar of Truth” even has a nod to that ubiquitous praise chorus, “Sanctuary.” I try to avoid hyperbole, but LITERALLY EVERYTHING ABOUT HISTORIAN IS PERFECT.
That’s it, then. The year in music for 2018 ends with the album that dominated what I listened to all year. Here’s to more great music in 2019. Happy New Year, and thanks for reading.