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Hand Habits - "Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void)" | Album Review

by Joe Gutierrez (@purityofheart_)

I’ve lived the past four months of my life with Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void). It’s been in my pockets, out my speakers, through my computer, and on my mind. I’ve spent even longer with the songs. Watching Meg Duffy play “Bad Boy” in a backyard, iPhone camera steady on the scene through gaps in the patio railing, foreground of cigarette smoke, background heavy with lantern-lit foliage. Witnessing “Sun Beholds Me” supernova on the third or fourth floor of a textile warehouse downtown, simultaneous jaw-drop glances between my band-mate and I, acknowledging, “wow, yes, you, too, feel this.” This being the cosmic and phenomenal force of Meg Duffy- singer, songwriter, performer, artist. Mastermind behind Hand Habits- builder of the bridge from one side of the canyon to the other, waiting to guide you across. 

You can tell a lot about what you’re in store for from Wildly Idle’s first and last lines. Album opener “Flower Glass” plunges into the acknowledgement, “I know I’m not the picture perfect vision made in your mind. I know I’m not the one you would’ve thought your love would look like.” Closing Side B, Duffy delicately delivers, “When I get my new bones, I’m gonna grow”. To make that transition over the course of an album- from an admission of unworthiness to a vow of renewal- is a phenomenal feat. The journey between those two points is bountiful. It’s filled with comrades’ poems uttered over segues scored like celluloid film strips of classic Westerns set on fire and smoking. Wind-chimes or digital blips, and you wondering which. Slide solos soaring like telephone wires over desert horizons. The shimmering first sight of El Dorado. Guitar melodies flickering in swirls like rabid fireflies. Slow, drooping, lazy summer days. Lying in hammocks in the shade, feeling the sun bite your arm every now and then. 

As I ask myself to dig deeper into the sum of this work, words like “solitude”, “introspection”, “affirmation”, and “transformation” wash ashore. Wildly Idle is something for the wanderers. And I think it’s also something for the wondering. Wondering where you belong. Wondering if you’ll ever feel like you belong anywhere. Wondering if you need to belong at all. I think this is the kind of record you put on to cure that deafening and dooming uncertainty. I put this on and it moves me. It makes me feel better about things. It helps. My best advice for you is this: grip this while you’re willing yourself out of existence. It might change your mind.