Photo: Marin Leong

Lucy Dacus returns with the tender and seething “Thumbs”

Lucy Dacus has returned with her first new solo song since the conclusion of her 2019 project; it’s called “Thumbs” and it’s one that’s been simmering for some time. Die-hard fans might remember it from her live performances in 2019, where she would finish with it, but would ask the crowd not to record, which they duly obliged – although someone did set up the Twitter account Has Lucy released Thumbs yet?.

The wait is now over, as “Thumbs” is out, but you can understand why it took a while when you read into the story behind it. First, Lucy says:

Like most songs I write, I wasn’t expecting it and it made me feel weird, almost sick. It tells the story of a day I had with a friend during our freshman year of college, a significant day, but not one that I had thought of for years. I started playing it live a month or so later during the boygenius tour after Phoebe and Julien encouraged me to. I knew I wanted a long time to get used to playing it since it made me feel shaky, so I ended sets with it for about half the shows I played in 2019. Before I played it, I would ask the audience to please not record it, a request that seems to have been respected, which I’m grateful for.

“Thumbs” eschews the bombastic guitars that have characterised a lot of Lucy’s work to date – but this is a tale so fraught and bubbling with anger that they’re unnecessary. With a whispering backing of synth, Lucy delicately unravels a memory of accompanying a close friend to meet her estranged father, and the visceral reactions that caused inside of her. It’s worth focusing entirely on “Thumbs” to immerse yourself in each of her carefully chosen words, but the sort-of chorus sums it up perfectly:

“I would kill him
if you let me.
I would kill him
quick and easy.
Your nails are digging into my knee.
I don’t know how you keep smiling.”

Listen to “Thumbs” on streaming platforms or below.

“Thumbs” is out via Matador, and with more to come hopefully very soon from Lucy Dacus, make sure you follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.