“Thumbs”

During Lucy Dacus‘ last show at 9:30 Club on Dec. 7, 2019, she started the encore with a new song. She’d played it live at other solo tour stops that year, and at shows for her supergroup boygenius. When she came out from backstage, she asked the crowd to be quiet and not to record, then mentioned that she hadn’t yet released the track, but that she was looking into it. Then she launched into “Thumbs,” a haunting ballad with an undercurrent of rage. Dacus says the song is autobiographical; it describes how a loved one gets a call from her absent father, and Dacus takes her to see him, because “for whatever reason you can’t tell him no,” she sings. Dacus watches the two at a bar, bile rising as her companion’s nails dig into her knee, and then the song moves into quiet, understated anger: “I would kill him / If you’ll let me,” Dacus sings breezily. “I would kill him / Quick and easy.” “Thumbs” (and its gory central image—thumbs pressing on eyes until they pop) was an instant fan favorite among aficionados of the Richmond-raised artist. They posted about it on Reddit, while over on Twitter, an account called @releasethumbs periodically checked in on the song’s release. Today, @releasethumbs gets to report the happy news: “Thumbs” is out in the world for all to hear. Though the song revolves around pain, it’s about love, especially at its conclusion. “I wanna take your face between my hands and say / You two are connected by pure coincidence,” she sings. And in the end: “You don’t owe him shit, even if he said you did.” The song is available on Spotify, Apple Music, Bandcamp, and other streaming services. Free—$1.29.

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