Review: Lucius Dances Through Despair

Lucius/Second Nature/Mom+Pop Music
Three Out of Five Stories

With their new album—and third to date—Second Nature, Lucius, a pure pop duo consisting of singer and songwriters Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe, dance away the distress and despair that have plagued them for the past couple of years. Like all of us, they’ve been upended by the various pressures that have accompanied life recently—politics, the pandemic, distancing, and disappointment—but add to that some other significant shifts—including the onslaught of motherhood, divorce, unexpected career catastrophes—and it becomes obvious that a litany of challenges has impacted their collective psyche. 

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Produced by Dave Cobb and Brandi Carlile, Second Nature seems at first to be a somewhat unusual outing for both Cobb and Carlile to be involved with, given that it doesn’t fall into their usual Americana environs. Likewise, when Carlile and Sheryl Crow join the fray on the song whose meaning resides at the core of it all, that is “Dance Around It,” it’s a curious combination one wouldn’t necessarily expect to hear. 

Most of the album mines a similar motif, with “Second Nature” and “Next To Normal” establishing both the tone and tempo. Still, it’s clear that Laessig and Wolfe have significantly more on their minds than pursuing any purely giddy designs. “The Man I’ll Never Find,” “Heartbursts” “White Lies,” and “Promises” bring their concerns to the fore, leaving little doubt as to the emotions that fuel their frustration. For all the upbeat enticement, desire and determination remain the core concerns. 

In that regard, it ought to be noted that the track titled “LSD” refers not to a certain strain of psychedelia, but instead stands for “Love So Deep.” Here again, it’s all in keeping with the hope and heartbreak that dominate the proceedings overall.

Ultimately, Second Nature finds Lucious at a precipitous point in their combined career, a reckoning of sorts that calls for reconciliation and resolve. Then again, if they can keep grooving on propulsive momentum, there’s a good chance they’ll succeed through sheer willpower alone.

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