Natasha Jacobs, the voice behind Thelma, possesses an impressive amount of confidence and constraint. Her self-titled album kicks off with a tease of a track in 'If You Let It', repeatedly provoking the listener with her lyric, “you deserve more”. The taunting lyrics, along with the slow building guitar and timely shrieks, make the opener a strong hook to see what else Jacobs has to say.
Thelma's debut album comes via Tiny Engines, the small but mighty label responsible for albums from The Hotelier, Mannequin Pussy, Sinai Vessel, and Wild Pink, among others. Unsurprisingly, Thelma makes for another strong addition to the team. She follows up her broad opener by going with direct questions and frustrations on 'White Couches'. The track plays like the subtext to a disinterested single word text to an ex: “Oh, you’re doing well? Cool.”. Jacobs calls out the other for foul play, for unnecessary discrimination because she doesn’t look how they want her to look. But again, Jacobs sticks out for her cool confidence. “But I know how to treat myself”, she repeats triumphantly over pounding drums and slightly ominous guitar to close the track.
Jacobs' confidence pulses all throughout the album lyrically, but it also begins to reveal itself within her instrumentation. The shortest track on the album, 'Spool', experiments the most, effectively featuring stray guitar musings in tension with digital bleeps, bloops, and occasional drum fills. It may not be as anthemic as Jacobs declaring “I am no peach”, but when the track breaks into its mad circus conclusion, a new kind of freedom is revealed that makes Thelma feel even more itself, which takes on another level of danger.
Things come to a close with the self-titled track on the self-titled album. On 'Thelma', we hear yet another side of Jacobs and Co. In a shrewd move, the track finally reveals that Thelma is indeed a real character, not just a name. More than a catchy, cool band name, it becomes clear that Thelma played a significant part in Jacobs’ life. Her back scratches and salt and pepper hair have stuck with Jacobs, who now traces her life through Thelma’s. After an album of strong stands and bold experimentation, it feels strangely right to end on a sincere ode to a loved one. It's yet another example of Jacobs being in complete control, showing the diversity of her talent and making this album sincerely hers.
Words: Connor Bush
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