“You guys are gonna have to help me choose the last song… one of them is about murdering my friend’s Dad”. Lucy Dacus’ siren-like voice could ask you to commit any manner of unspeakable atrocity and you’d happily acquiesce. Tonight, the 24 year old Virginian drops in to The Voodoo Rooms on the back of a short UK tour to promote her second album, Historian, and there is the very real sense of something special unfolding in amongst the curtained black velvet of the packed venue.
Support comes from the punchy, hipswaying Liz Lawrence who has already established herself as a high end performer in her own right. Peering into her laptop and soft shoe shuffling behind her mustard coloured Telecaster, she’s straight into her groove, electronic beats and jagged guitar getting into the guts of The Good Part and soaring vocals on the sublime, spellbinding Woman. An Anna Calvi without the bombast. She’s going to go bigger, no doubt.
And so, with a giant disco ball scattering swirling light fragments, Lucy Dacus takes the stage, resplendent in a red Paisley shirt and tightly clutching a cup of herbal tea. She’s hurt her voice after last night’s efforts, and she seems to be feeling her way into a completely new song. But as soon as her unmistakable voice begins to slowly unfurl the opening strains of Addictions, there is no looking back. It seems so effortless but there is an understated power in the way she leans back on her band, batting back and forward during The Shell, the intimate setting highlighting how stage connected they all are. The joyous contrast of the loud and the quiet.
Thing is, it’s the playful nature of her performance that really cements things for the audience. Those moments of pause that Dacus just owns, nodding behind her tousled, half asleep gaze. A supercharged rendition of Edith Piaf’s La Vie En Rose amid the dapple of that churning glitterball has those with red wine in the front row ready to swoon. Imagine all that and she’s singing in French. That’s a heady mixture.
A side-swipe at her homeland on Yours & Mine ends with a skyward reaching solo from guitarist Jacob Blizard that breaks over the crowd in a tidal wave of emotion. My jaw aches from grinning so much. The tightrope act of balancing songs surrounding lip-quivering heartache and wry, adolescent stories of crooked teeth and sweet affirmations is testament to her precocious talent. None more so than during the sight of Dacus playing a tiny piano for My Mother And I – “she’s a Taurus, like me” – that damned near breaks your heart and makes you yearn to phone your mum and profess your love that very instant.
Night Shift lifts the crowd inexplicably higher with every single word sung back in a rapturous cacophony of noise before Dacus brings it all to a close with an acoustic guitar and a borrowed drum stool for a song she wrote on the tour bus hours earlier.
Such is the power of the girl. All smiling eyes and poking fun at her own belly button. Go see.