Front Porch Folk-Rock
Meg Duffy, aka Hand Habits, takes center stage in Wildly Idle and, with the help of supporting artists Kevin Morby, Weyes Blood and Mega Bog, she proves her solo work to be a great addition to any folk or indie rock enthusiast’s repertoire.
The 13-track album pulls gently at the heartstrings with delicate and effective guitar playing paired with soft vocals. Opening track “Flower Gates” opens the scene with its subdued vocals and accompaniment, painting the picture of one staring longingly at a vase of flowers from a complicated love. “Actress” folds in layers of sound using various guitar effects to successfully create a wind chime effect. Duffy is evidently a fan of straight singing that is both soft and unpretentious as she muses, “when it’s hard to be an actress, but you’ll try…you’re running out of time,” over a simple melody that is weirdly familiar yet not. Duffy also includes a couple of “scenes” including “Greater LA,” “Cowboy” and “Time Hole,” which feature distorted spoken poetry over soothing electronic sounds that are straight out of an indie rom-com. These are evenly scattered through the album and produce a really unique effect that brings it together.
“In Between” stands out as a gift of strength that some of the softer tracks lack. For one, the drum is more pronounced and the guitar is turned up. It also showcases Duffy’s clear proficiency at guitar, as she takes ample opportunity to showcase her skill through clean, quick-handed arpeggios and runs. She does a great job of building anticipation without blowing the lid on the subtlety Wildly Idle accomplishes. “All the While” is a steady track that comes across as more pop but with a Frankie Cosmos twist. “Demand It” begins with lovely descending vocals and continues gently with twinkling guitars that create a surreal, dreamy effect. “Book On How To Change” is brooding, ethereal and a touch reminiscent of ’70s folk rock. “Nite Life” is slow and stunning with a real wind-in-the-hair effect with ebbs and flows of sound that impersonate a gentle “whoosh.”
The album ends darkly with “Bad Boy” and closing track “New Bones,” with the lyrics, “when I get my new bones, I’m gonna grow,” suggesting that everyone has an opportunity for renewal and growth.
Wildly Idle is like a series of scenes that take place in the same location. The intimacy shared in Duffy’s gentle vocals and playing suggests a gathering of like-minded souls on a summer day in upstate New York just daydreaming on a wooden front porch complete with rocking chairs and straw chewing. That, or hipsters at an Echo Park living room show—everyone standing or sitting wildly idle.