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Songs We Love: Lucy Dacus, 'Strange Torpedo'

Lucy Dacus
Courtesy of the artist
Lucy Dacus

<em>No Burden</em> (EggHunt Records 2016)
/ Courtesy of the artist
Courtesy of the artist
No Burden (EggHunt Records 2016)

Watching someone close to you spiral into self-destruction is never easy. On "Strange Torpedo," Lucy Dacus details the frustrating process of observing a loved one make the same mistakes over and over, assuredly swerving through four and a half minutes of pent-up rage expressed with a balance of empathy and exhaustion, played out as thoughtful, forceful indie rock. "You're a strange torpedo on the loose," Dacus bemoans on the chorus, "and I'll play the fool."

"If you really love somebody, you kind of just have to be with them through the unfortunate times," Dacus explained in an interview with NPR. She says she wrote "Strange Torpedo" while thinking about relationships with people where "you feel like you know exactly what needs to happen to make their life better — the choices that they shouldn't make or the habits that they should drop — but you have no control."

Dacus' Richmond, Virginia background shows through on No Burden, her debut — the power-pop songs are naturally rootsy, embodying an authentic Southern soul. Yet the 20 year-old singer-songwriter's voice transcends her locale and her age, a confident blend of Sharon Van Etten's aching power, Jenny Lewis' cool drawl and Courtney Barnett's bright wit. Neither are the compositions new, as Dacus performed them solo for about a year before going putting them to tape in Nashville with two co-producing friends, engineer Collin Pastore and guitarist Jacob Blizard.

Still, "Torpedo" stands out for the way it blends raw emotion with melodic hooks. Hayden Cotcher's driving drums and Blizard's guitars form the song's backbone, musically highlighting Dacus' delivery and caustic lyrics. In the climax, she dryly questions if rock bottom is even an option, "'Cause you've been falling for so long / and you haven't hit anything solid yet." At these moments, Dacus' voice occasionally wavers from the stuck-in-your-head melody of "Strange Torpedo," but don't take that for uncertainty.

No Burden is out now on EggHunt Records.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.