By Rachel Laurie
Lucy Dacus' long-awaited hit single, “Thumbs,” was finally officially released on March 9th after making appearances on her live setlists as early as 2018. Upon hearing the single, I understood why fans had been begging for its release. It's intense lyrics offer a cathartic release to listeners, and once again, Dacus is able to aptly sum up complicated family relationships in less than five minutes.
While listening, I also realized this wasn’t my first time hearing “Thumbs.” The slow-burning single was the last song Dacus played at her 2019 show in Asheville, NC. I was at The Grey Eagle, a veteran in the local music scene. Actually, I was there on a date where we drove two hours on Mother’s Day to see Dacus perform. At the time, “I Don’t Want to be Funny Anymore” was my favorite song, but “Thumbs” and “My Mother and I” were the real show-stoppers of the performance. I was grateful for the dark venue, as Dacus’ heartfelt lyrics and vulnerable performance moved me to tears, especially during her finale where she performed a special version of “My Mother and I;" as a unique homage to Mother’ Day, she performed the honest song as a duet with her mom.
Dacus' Her ability to be vulnerable in her lyrics and performance shows her strength as an artist. She offers something special in the way she engages with the most complicated parts of her life, giving her listeners insight and encouragement to heal. “Thumbs” is no exception, either. As her show came to a close, Dacus softly asked us to not record the next song, as it wasn’t released yet. Instantly, the crowd felt like we were included in a secret. No one was blocking the view with their phones or being distracted; we all reveled in what felt like a private moment, just for us.
In the way that Bob Dylan’s impactful words carry his songs, Dacus’ lyrics take center stage in “Thumbs.” Emotion takes over as she slowly takes us through a familiar narrative of absent fathers, misplaced hope in someone else, and profound disappointment. The song is written from the perspective of someone watching their friend go through this, giving Dacus the opportunity to say the things that feel impossible to say out loud. It is an honest, painful, and healing song with lyrics like, “I wanna take your face between my hands and say/‘You two are connected by a pure coincidence/Bound to him by blood, but baby, it's all relative/You've been in his fist ever since you were a kid/But you don't owe him shit even if he said you did/You don't owe him shit even if he said you did.’"
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