Lucy Dacus contemplates death and self-forgiveness on her new single, "Next of Kin." The 22-year-old singer's supple contralto provides calm over snapping guitar and bass. It's a smart combination Dacus returns to on her forthcoming album, Historian, out March 2nd. She released the record's first song, "Night Shift," in December.
Dacus tells Rolling Stone that "Kin" lyrics like "I used to be too deep inside my head/ Now I'm too far out of my skin," refer to closing herself off to the world and in turn, not taking care of herself, spiritually. It was written after she began having panic attacks for the first time following her breakthrough album, No Burden.
"I could tell myself, 'Nothing's going on, chill out.' But I'd just be shaking. Or my throat would close up, or I would start losing my vision, get dizzy, get nauseous ... It would just be a feedback loop."
Once the anxiety abated, Dacus was inspired to write a "positive song" about finding peace in not achieving everything in life. "Admitting that you're not going to reach all of your goals – or for me, read all the books that I want to read [laughs] – that's something that can put me into a space of anxiety. But it's almost more comforting to admit that's what will happen. Then you can get past it."
For Dacus, "Next of Kin" – like many of her songs – functions as a kind of personal reminder to keep self-care in balance. "I think I've had extremes of being unable to exist outside of my own head, and then only existing for other people," she says thoughtfully. "There's a middle ground where I should take care of myself and other people. And I do feel better about that since writing the ['Next of Kin'] line. Writing the line is then setting a goal for myself that I then have to achieve."
Following the record's release, Dacus will tour the U.S. and Europe from March through early May.
Additional reporting by Sarah Grant