Second Nature, an unabashedly sincere work of practically perfect Dance-Pop has arrived from Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe, known collectively as Lucius. Their third full-length, and first since 2016’s Good Grief, is a reflection of deep heartache and life throughout the pandemic as seen through each other’s eyes. Working through everything, the pair culminates their shared understanding with a solution as to how to get through it all: dance it out. “It is a record that begs you not to sit in the difficult moments, but to dance through them,” says Wolfe. “It touches upon all these stages of grief – and some of that is breakthrough, by the way. Being able to have the full spectrum of the experience that we have had, or that I’ve had in my divorce, or that we had in lockdown, having our careers come to a halt, so to speak. I think you can really hear and feel the spectrum of emotion and hopefully find the joy in the darkness. It does exist. That’s why we made Second Nature and why we wanted it to sound the way it did: our focus was on dancing our way through the darkness.”
After three years of relentless touring, the group took a hiatus for Laessig and Wolfe to tour as supporting vocalists for Roger Waters, a move ensuring the group would return refreshed and intact. They left LA for Nashville, moving in briefly with Sheryl Crow, who would provide the piano on which the heart-wrenching "The Man I’ll Never Find” was written as well as backup vocals on “Dance Around It,” a literal dance track chronicling the metaphorical dance we do in order not to suddenly and catastrophically rip apart fraying partnerships. Heading into Nashville’s RCA Studio A with co-producers Brandi Carlile and Dave Cobb, a disco record may not have been the initial idea, but the guiding energy was relentless. “Dave at one point said, ‘I wanna make a disco record!’” Laessig recalls. “The fact that was coming from him, it wasn’t something you expected, and it was exciting because it was like ‘Oh, we’re all gonna do this thing that we’ve never done. That sounds really enticing and fresh.’ After being in lockdown for so long, it felt like we wanted to dance. I don’t think anyone wanted to mope around too much at the end of this.’”
The result is a body of songs around which John Hughes could write movies - high peaks and emotional landslides all met by the impulse to dance. The duo meets each occasion with powerful energy that’s fresh yet familiar, be it a funky Disco beat like “Second Nature” and “Next To Normal” or the more harmonious “24” and “White Lies,” Carlile there throughout encouraging them to their vocal edge. “She’d say, ‘You’ve got this in you, you can push this further, let’s go for it, let’s make a thing out of this moment.’ That happened all over the record,” Laessig remembers.
Carlile has tapped the group to take some time away from their extensive upcoming tour to open for her at select locations such as Nashville’s Ascend Pavilion, The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles and her hometown gig at The Gorge Ampitheatre in Washington. In the meantime, “Next To Normal” is in heavy rotation at KRVB, WYMS, WRLT, WPYA and many, many more.
Photo by Max Wanger