words: Nicolette Natale
On her self-titled debut as Thelma, Natasha Jacobs impressively navigates the tricky balance of caring for friends and family while establishing non-negotiable boundaries about how one expects to be treated. The beauty, though, is that Jacobs makes this balancing act not seem incredibly daunting; rather she presents boundaries as an organic and necessary aspect of relationships.
Thelma kicks off the album with the song “If You Let It,” where the speaker addresses a restrictive friend. In an act of self-love, the narrator moves away from the person they are addressing, to a place where “[she] can’t hear you / or feel the limits you put / on yourself and those around you.” The speaker finds the “signal” to move away from this person and their “noise” or criticisms. She repeats “you deserve more” like a mantra, maybe until the person will believe it. And in her encouragement for this person’s inner noise to be silenced, she is affectionate, saying “you can find that signal, dear.” It is not even a question; she has confidence and faith that this person can find inner peace.
The album then progresses to “White Couches,” where Thelma establishes she is no longer going to restrict herself to act in ways that others deems as appropriate or acceptable behavior. Thelma sings, “But I can’t sit on your white couches tonight,” suggesting she has, in the past, conformed to this perons's standards, but is now refusing to do so. Through the symbolism of the white couches, Thelma ends her submission, and honors herself and her truth.
Similarly, in “Moxie,” Thelma makes the decision to end a relationship after her basic needs are not met. Thelma sings “But you could not give me what was mine / Had to claim my body and my mind / What I choose to do with them is fine.” And although Thelma acknowledges the misgivings of his person, she does not completely vilify the person for failing to do so. Rather, she gives them the advice “Be proud support those you love / I believe in you.” Even in her endings, Thelma demonstrates kindness and compassion.
One may wonder how Thelma may be so composed and sage in situations where it would be understandable to express rage or just completely tell someone off. I’d like to think the last song, “Thelma,” on the album answers that question. At Thelma’s March 4th Album Release Show at the Silent Barn, Jacobs revealed that Thelma was her grandmother’s name. “Thelma” is a beautiful ode to her grandmother’s memory, where Jacobs recalls all the love, attention and devotion Thelma put in her relationships. It’s obvious that Jacobs admired Thelma, and after spending so much time with her, inherited her ability to “care in all her ways.” Truly, Thelma is a part of Jacobs forever.