Meg Duffy’s music engulfs the listener before it’s been fully realized. Duffy’s songs are reminiscent of walking through a tunnel under a busy Los Angeles overpass with the harsh wind rushing around you and cars passing in a blur traveling to destinations unknown. In moments of hectic bliss, there comes a sense of solace; to be alone in a moment of chaos, and Duffy absolutely provides that type of solace.
Meg Duffy, New York-native and now Los Angeles-resident, has been a part of many important projects. Most notably, providing lead guitar in Kevin Morby’s band, but also working on the Grammy award-winning War on Drugs album; Duffy’s lent a hand to more artists than you know. These accomplishments are no small feat however, Duffy stands alongside these collaborators and peers, rather than standing in the background. Duffy leads Hand Habits, which provides a necessary narrative in music churning out emotive and impactful alternative jammers.
On placeholder, Duffy’s second full-length, the surface level theme is the common exploration of the trials and tribulations of relationships. It’s a common theme, but Duffy gives heartbreak a new face. The vulnerable collection of songs focus on forgiveness, fragility, and growing. Romantic or not, these are the things that shape us into the person we become. What’s most refreshing about placeholder is not only Duffy’s lack of grudge-holding and but also the fact that she never fights to villainize another. They never point a finger at a past lover or friend without reflecting on what they could have fixed as well. This is most apparent on the opening title track when Duffy thoughtfully switches from “I was just a placeholder/a lesson to be learned” to “you were just a placeholder/for someone wasting time” by the end of the track. “placeholder” is a perfect encapsulation of the record as Duffy comes to terms to see a relationship for what it really was, which in this case was a way to pass time, in both corners of the ring. The whole record follows somewhat of a formula; they never rely on a lonesome narrative to tell all sides of the detailed story. The great intimacy of placeholder relies heavily on perspective, reflection, and Duffy’s own inflection.
On April 26th, Hand Habits is taking the stage of one of our favorite venues in Los Angeles, the Bootleg! Free parking, ping pong, bathrooms that don’t make you want to sanitize your entire body, an old-timey photo booth where the pictures still come out smelly, and to top it off, Hand Habits is headlining. All in one night? Duffy’s type of vulnerable confidence will only be amplified in the confines of the beautifully intimate theater. With tunes like “can’t calm down,” a brooding track where Duffy worries about never being able to just relax (ah, the beautiful cycle of being perpetually worried) to the more folk “jessica” in which Duffy utilizes a beautiful slide guitar and has learned to forgive, the crowd will be kept on their heartbreaking toes. Like the record has brought to me, Duffy will bring to the Bootleg Theater that night: solace, serenity, and clarity.
For more from Hand Habits, follow them on Instagram.