A few weeks past the four year anniversary of our intro to the Skin&Earth era, Lights boasted “I’m back” by gifting us with “Prodigal Daughter“, her first single of her own making since. While fans have not gone without during that four year period — we’ve seen several features, EDM tracks, the conception and execution of the first lun project — this new single has been long and patiently awaited.
Watch the video for “Prodigal Daughter”:
Lights has always contrived eloquent lyrics in her songs and “Prodigal Daughter” is no different. A song with the ability to spark discussion about its meaning among fans is one that holds a lot of power — not only for the artist who wrote it, but for those who are able to hear the words and resonate with them enough that it brings them to share it with others. I think a lot of people can relate to what this track alludes to, be that breaking free from oppressive religious beliefs passed down through generations or turning a page and finding a reprieve in your true self after smothering your full form for so long to appease others.
“Prodigal Daughter” feels like the telling of a coming of age story. One that starts with the daunting realization that things that you’ve been told to believe over a number of years might not be exactly what they seem. With a smattering of religious symbolism both throughout the lyrics and in imagery portrayed in the corresponding music video, as well as references made to industry standards put in place to keep people in place, this song feels very much like the power that comes from becoming aware that there is more beyond that.
One of my favourite scenes from the music video is the shots of Lights in front of a wall that has multiple autonomous hands reaching through it. They start off just being there, but as you’re brought back to this shot over the course of the video the hands are seen greedily pulling at her, satin selfishly grasping at exposed skin and hair and clothing. Holding her in place. It feels like it’s touching on how people get a feel of this very small portion of someone’s life – their identity – and hang on to that. An inability to accept the way someone grows and changes over a lifetime. It’s limiting and archaic to believe that someone should “stick to what they’ve always done” and the way Lights has moved out of those hands reach by the last time this scene is showcased is a beautiful visual representation of her transcendence into her own. No longer catering to peoples’ idea of what Lights should be doing, but instead being unapologetically herself.
The song lends itself to a visual portrayal incredibly well, but it’s also a great piece of music on it’s own. It feels like finding yourself and the things you can truly believe in while in the midst of unrelenting forces trying to keep you “where you belong.” Shedding those expectations and breaking free from the presumptions can be daunting. Coming into your own when you’ve been told that your own isn’t what’s best or what’s recommended can be lonely, terrifying even. But the freedom on the other side of those expectations is liberating.
The first verse is very reminiscent of the Skin&Earth era vocals, but there is a sense of newness as you progress through the track. The bridge showcases the absolute powerhouse of her range. Then the pre-chorus that follows… those harmonies? “Layin’ naked by the poolside” never sounded so good.
It would be impossible for me to speak on this track from a completely objective standpoint. I can remember watching her sing “Lions!” in her living room on YouTube. I’ve seen her live more than any other artist. I have tattoos inspired by multiple different phases of her career. Watching her evolution in real time has been an incredible experience. From The Listening to now, we’ve moved through genres, hair colours, identities. Stepping into herself and this new era feels like a perfect stride.