How do we continue to emphasize the importance of self-care when we are constantly seeing the opposite message slammed into our brains? As we see some of the world’s most famous stars promoting unhealthy weight-loss supplements and waist trainers, it’s not surprising that we continue to find ways to make ourselves and each other feel bad. The self-care narrative continues to push spending money on kale salads, buying seven bath bombs, or taking a pricey yoga class with hopes of all our problems go away, when it’s really not that simple for anyone. It certainly can be, but at the end of the day, are these companies really doing anything else except selling us expensive things and slapping a #selfcare label on them?
Liza Anne wants you to feel differently. On her newest single, “Devotion,” leading an (assumed) unannounced fourth album potentially dropping before the end of the year or early next, the song is an ode to self-care and self-love that doesn’t revolve around taking a spin class or buying a $9 smoothie to feel better about our day. After a relationship takes a toll on one’s self-worth, “Devotion” a beautiful reminder that you always have yourself.
Liza grew up in St. Simons Island, Georgia and attended Belmont University in Nashville to study songwriting. Her first album, The Colder Months, was released in 2014 and shortly after, she dropped out of school shortly after to pursue music full time. Liza has released two more albums since, toured with Kacey Musgraves, Ray LaMontagne, Margaret Glaspy and more. Her 2018 album, Fine But Dying, ended up on my favorite albums of 2018—read more about it here.
Her most recent stint is a string of dates with Lucy Dacus, and their stop in Chicago pulled a large crowd to Park West last week. The 1,000 capacity venue started to fill up pretty soon after the doors were set to open as Liza Anne took the stage, decked out in a sheer green dress by KkCo that Liza says “gives her the same energy ‘Devotion’ gave me when I wrote it down for the first time.”
Liza played a great mix of tracks from Fine, But Dying (“Paranoia,” “Small Talks,” “I Love You But I Need Another Year,”) and unreleased tracks that I hope to hear released soon. Though it didn’t seem like many of the audience members were familiar with her music, Liza did a phenomenal job of interacting with the audience in between songs that made her likeable, relatable and down-to-earth. Chatting about the meaning behind the songs (“Panic Attack” was written about the times Liza doesn’t feel brave,”) and an unreleased song titled “I Shouldn’t Ghost My Therapist.” The set lasted about 40 minutes and gave Liza a great opportunity to showcase what her music is all about and what sets her apart as a performer.
Next up on the line-up was Lucy Dacus. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve written about her pretty extensively for her work with boygenius—the supergroup formed in 2018 with Lucy, Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker.
Dacus hails from Richmond, Virginia and left school at the Virginia Commonwealth University to pursue a career in music full time. Her 2016 debut album, No Burden, was released on EggHunt records and reached critical acclaim. Soon thereafter, Dacus was signed to Matador Records, who re-released No Burden in 2016. Dacus made her debut at Lollapalooza the same year and later played a handful of festivals and continued touring. Historian, Dacus’ second album, was released in 2018 and also received incredible acclaim by music critics. Just recently, Historian was included in Paste Magazine’s list of 100 best albums of the past decade, landing at #20.
boygenius’ self-titled debut EP was just as successful of a project as Lucy’s solo work, and they toured during the fall of last year to support the work. Since the beginning of the new year, Dacus has been releasing songs in a series called 2019, to commemorate holidays. So far, she’s released covers of “La Vie En Rose,” “Dancing In The Dark” and “In The Air Tonight,” as well as a couple of original tracks.
When the stage was ready for Lucy to arrive, the lights dimmed and all that illuminated the space was the neon sign that hung in the back of the stage. The set didn’t go as planned, however, as Lucy couldn’t find the guitar she was supposed to play on the first track, which led her to improvise with an acoustic guitar.
“Spooky things have been happening to me all week,” she says after the song ends and her guitar is handed to her onstage from someone who seemed to have found it. The show continued with one of my favorite songs by Dacus, “Addictions.” While the shape, atmosphere and overall ambiance of Park West seem to be a weird one that’s hard to describe, it felt as though the entire audience was able to sing along to every word as voices were echoing through the venue like a beautiful choir. I had only been to Park West once, and it was just about four years ago, so it’s safe to say that I wasn’t really sure of what I was getting myself into going to this venue, but it fit well with Lucy and vice versa.
As the show progressed, I thought Lucy became more and more comfortable onstage in front of an audience. She initially seemed a little uncomfortable being in the spotlight, and I for sure would be the same way. The venue doesn’t have any barriers between the stage and the audience, so you are quite literally belting your heart out to people 1 foot in front of you. Seeing it from that perspective must make things incredibly unnerving, and it’s only natural that her confidence would grow as the show continued. Lucy’s vocals remained unwavering from start to end, and it was impressive to see her really belt it out during times where the set needed it, and when she was able to hold back a bit during the more tender moments of the evening.
It felt like everyone in the audience was looking forward to hearing “Night Shift” more than anything. But not like they didn’t want to hear other tracks or would leave as soon as it ended, but as though each song was building up to that moment in the evening. I, for one, was ecstatic to hear this song live for the first time. There are only a handful of songs that can make me feel a certain way after I hear them live for the first time, and “Night Shift” gave me so much closure and felt like I could move on from the memories I associate the song with. When she sings “In five years, I hope the songs feel like covers, dedicated to new lovers” encapsulates the sentiment so well. We all hope to get to a moment in our lives where we can move on from something we associate with a negative person, relationship, event, etc. and look at it from a healthy perspective, and I think every night that Lucy gets to sing this song, she gets closer and closer to that feeling. I know hearing it live just once did it for me. THAT is the type of #selfcare I would like to bottle up and have forever.
Lucy’s current tour began in the beginning of September and has dates that run through early November. Click here for upcoming tour dates.
All photos shot by me for Chicago Haze.
As always, thank you for reading!