Music Hall of Williamsburg
Hamilton Leithauser

Hamilton Leithauser

Lucy Dacus

Thu, February 23, 2017

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Music Hall of Williamsburg

Brooklyn, NY

$25

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This event is 18 and over

Hamilton Leithauser
Hamilton Leithauser
I Had A Dream That You Were Mine is an album of songs Hamilton Leithauser and Rostam wrote and recorded together between July 2014 and February 2016. In the spirit of collaborative albums, not unlike those of David Byrne and Brian Eno, each musician’s individuality remains in tact, while in fact, on this record, both Hamilton’s identity as a singer and Rostam’s as a producer seem to reach new heights.
“This was a record I’d been wanting to make for at least a decade” Rostam says, “As a fan of Hamilton’s voice in the Walkmen I’d been wanting to capture it in ways it hadn’t been captured before—to make songs with him that placed the crooner right beside the howler, the screamer beside the whisperer—to try to leave no stone unturned in terms of how we should approach the delivery of a song. And also to try to push his voice outside of any musical context it had lived in before.”
Says Leithauser, “Rostam’s one-man-band process is so fundamentally different from the way I’ve always written songs, and it’s very impressive. We had no idea what kind of music we were going to make—we actually didn't know we were working on an album at first—but unexpected things kept falling into place. We were writing and recording everything simultaneously—it was flat-out inspiring just to be there.”
Many of these songs seem to take place in a memory of New York’s past, or wading through the waist high waters in a half-submerged New York of the future. Yet what unites them is that they tell stories—I Had A Dream That You Were Mine is an album, a collection of songs yes, but also a collection of narratives. The Bride’s Dad faithfully recounts an unexpected (an probably uninvited) guest at a friend’s recent wedding; You Ain’t That Young Kid follows the wistful narrator through a night of lost love and transformed resolve. From the doo-wop of When the Truth is… to the country pedal steel of The Morning Stars; from the piano and organ alchemy of the Band in A 1000 Times, to the Leonard Cohen-esque Spanish triplets of In a Black Out; the album harnesses the exploding musical styles of midcentury America—which, when melded with the warbled 1980’s analogue synthesizers of You Ain’t That Young Kid, the ultramodern sub bass of Sick as a Dog, the intimate falsetto of 1959, and the raucous bar-room chorus of Rough Going—sparks an entirely unexpected and innovative style.
Lucy Dacus
Lucy Dacus
You said, “Don't go changing.

I'll rearrange to let you in

and I'll be your historian

and you'll be mine.

And I'll fill pages of scribbled ink,

hoping the words carry meaning.”

Then one day, the motorcade,

covered in flower wreaths,

first in a big parade,

will come to take one of us away

leaving the other with plenty to read.

Lucy Dacus is done thinking small. Two years after her 2016 debut, No Burden, won her unanimous acclaim as one of rock's most promising new voices, Dacus returns on March 2 with Historian, a remarkably assured 10-track statement of intent. It finds her unafraid to take on the big questions — the life-or-death reckonings, and the ones that just feel that way. It's a record full of bracing realizations, tearful declarations and moments of hard-won peace, expressed in lyrics that feel destined for countless yearbook quotes and first tattoos.

"This is the album I needed to make," says Dacus, who views Historian as her definitive statement as a songwriter and musician. "Everything after this is a bonus."

She emphasizes that she does not take her newfound platform as a touring musician for granted. "I have this job where I get to talk to people I don't know every night," she remembers thinking on the long van rides across America to support No Burden. Realizing that she would have a dramatically expanded audience for her second album, she felt an urgent call to make something worthwhile: "The next record should be the thing that's most important to say."

The past year, with its electoral disasters and other assorted heartbreaks, has been a rough one for many of us, Dacus included. She found solace in crafting a thoughtful narrative arc for Historian, writing a concept album about cautious optimism in the face of adversity, with thematic links between songs that reveal themselves on repeat listens. "It starts out dark and ends hopeful, but it gets darker in between; it goes to the deepest, darkest, place and then breaks," she explains. "What I'm trying to say throughout the album is that hope survives, even in the face of the worst stuff."

Dacus and her band recorded the album in Nashville last March, re-teaming with No Burden producer Collin Pastore, and mixed it a few months later with A-list studio wizard John Congleton. The sound they created, with substantial input from multi-instrumentalist and live guitarist Jacob Blizard, is far richer and fuller than the debut — an outward flowering of dynamic, living, breathing rock and roll. Dacus' remarkable sense of melody and composition are the driving force throughout, giving Historian the immersive feel of an album made by an artist in full command of her powers.

The album opens with a striking three-track run. First comes "Night Shift," the only breakup song Dacus has ever written: "In five years I hope the songs feel like covers, dedicated to new lovers," she memorably declares. Next is the catchy, upbeat first single "Addictions," inspired in part by the dislocated feeling of life on the road and the lure of familiarity ("I’m just calling cause I’m used to it/And you’ll pick up cause you’re not a quitter…"), followed by "The Shell," a reflection on (and embrace of) creative burnout. There's nothing tentative about this opening sequence. Right away, it's clear that Dacus is on a new level of truth-telling and melodic grace.

Another key highlight is track five, "Yours & Mine" — "the centerpiece where the whole album hinges in on itself," Dacus says. Using a call-and-response format, she wrestles with the question of how best to participate in a community broken by injustice and fear while staying true to what one believes is right. "It's about realizing your power as a person, and deciding to do the less safe but ultimately more powerful move, which is to move physically forward — show up and march — and move forward politically," says Dacus, who began writing the song during the 2015 Baltimore Uprising against systemic racism.

Historian closes with two stunning songs: "Pillar of Truth," a heartfelt tribute to Dacus' late grandmother, and "Historians," which sums up the album's complex lessons about loss. "From the first song to 'Pillar of Truth,' the message is: You can't avoid these things, so accept them. There's ways to go about it with grace and gratefulness," she says. "Then 'Historians' says that even if you can say that, there's still fear, and loss is terrifying. You still love things, so it's going to hurt. But dark isn't bad. It's good to know that.”
Venue Information:
Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 North 6th St
Brooklyn, NY, 11249
http://www.musichallofwilliamsburg.com/