“Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void)”: A warm initiation from Hand Habits

by Rose Blanton

If you’ve had the pleasure this past year to catch Kevin Morby live, a petite female guitarist in his band may have caught your attention. That person was Meg Duffy. Last July, I had the pleasure of catching Morby’s band live and gave credit to Duffy’s prowess. I demanded to hear more from her – and I got my wish.

Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void) is Duffy’s first full-length album under the name Hand Habits, which might be some sort of inside joke referring to being a guitarist, perhaps a play off of strumming. While we may not be privy to the inside joke that birthed the name, we are definitely invited into the intimate creation that is Duffy’s album.

Everything from the cover art to the final track draws you in. With the help of the Woodsist label, Duffy made a bedroom album that seems to be the epitome of the genre. The dreamy, cozy sound lures you into her space while the lyrics insist you stay a while and figure out exactly what’s going to happen in this room. Her sound is simultaneously demure and intriguing. And just like most girls’ bedrooms, this is a private sanctuary that we’ve been allowed into.

She cuts the albums into three parts, using scenes. The scenes are variations of short sound bites; some being musical and others being conversations. Perhaps these are situations that have happened in this very bedroom.

The album has 13 tracks, each stretching beyond four minutes long. This is a sprawling debut album that Duffy obviously labored over. Each track is filled with folky strumming and glistening indie twang, and Duffy’s whisper is the perfect vessel to carry her lyrics to your ear. Morby may have described it best in the press release he wrote for her: “It hits soft, like warm water, and before you know it it is all around you – a bath, and Meg’s whisper has made its way inside you.”

Her work has paid off, and listeners have been gifted with something special – with each listen, we get to know Duffy a little better. In the album opener “Flower Glass” she reveals a longing to hold someone, but by the end, she uses “New Bones” to express that with her new bones, she’ll grow.

Perhaps Wildly Idle is Meg expressing her desire to break out on her own. While it’s clear from “All The While” that she’s troubled by the prospect of always feeling the same, maybe now with her own album to tour with, she’ll test out her new bones – and she won’t feel the same anymore.