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by Hand Habits

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about

Meg Duffy grew up in a small town in Upstate New York and they cut their teeth as a session guitarist and touring member of Kevin Morby’s band. The Hand Habits project emerged after Meg moved to Los Angeles; it started as a private songwriting outlet but soon evolved into a fully-fledged band with Meg at the helm. Hand Habits’ debut album, Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void), was released by Woodsist Records in 2017. The LP was entirely self-produced and recorded in Meg’s home during spare moments when they weren’t touring. Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void) is a lush, homespun collection of folk songs that found Meg in an exploratory state as an artist moving out on their own for the first time.

Two years later, Hand Habits has returned with their sophomore album, placeholder. To make this album, Meg chose to work in a studio and bring in collaborators, entrusting them with what had previously been a very personal creative process. Over the course of 12 tracks, Meg emerges with new confidence as both a bandleader and singer. This album is as tender and immediate as anything Meg’s ever written, but it’s also intensely focused and refined, the work of a meticulous musician ready to share their singular vision with the world.

The name placeholder stems from Meg’s fascination with the undefinable. Their songs serve as openings -- carved-out spaces waiting to be endowed with meaning. As a lyricist, Meg is drawn to the in-between, and the songs on this new album primarily confront the ways in which certain experiences can serve as a stepping stone on the road to self-discovery. “A big aspect of my songwriting and the way I move through the world depends on my relationships with people. The songs on placeholder are about accountability and forgiveness,” Meg says. “These are all real stories. I don’t fictionalize much.”

Meg describes these songs as their most direct to date, crafted with clear intention, and unlike Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void), placeholder doesn’t meander. “It’s less of a submerged landscape and more a concise series of thoughts,” Meg explains. Instrumentally, placeholder can be situated alongside some of Meg’s folk-adjacent contemporaries like Angel Olsen or Big Thief, and the guitar work on this album proves that Meg continues to be one of the finest young musicians working today. placeholder is another entry in the Hand Habits songbook, but it’s also a valuable testament of our time. While placeholder inspires a sense of ease, simple questions rarely beget easy answers and Meg honors the indescribable joy and profound sorrow that comes with figuring things out, one step at a time.

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released March 1, 2019

2019 Saddle Creek

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Hand Habits Los Angeles, California

Meg Duffy and a continuous amoeba

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Track Name: placeholder
last time that i saw you
both hands in the dirt
asking for a photograph
a picture you did not deserve

oh but i was just a placeholder
a lesson to be learned
oh i was just a placeholder
a place you will return

last time that i heard your voice
words i couldn’t comprehend
as a thousand years of feedback
screaming in my head

oh but i was just a placeholder
exchange for what you had
oh i was just a placeholder
a tension you retract

ahh ah ah ah

curious i came to you
you wordlessly ignored
as i stumbled psychically upon a truth i could not afford
oh but i was just a placeholder
a place and nothing more
oh i was just a placeholder with nothing to stand for

this is where i doubted you,
and endless compromise
to say that you told me to the truth is to tell each other lies
oh but now you are the placeholder
blinded by desire
oh now you’re just a placeholder for someone wasting time

ahha ah ahahaa
Track Name: can’t calm down
take me back outside
i don’t wanna hear the sound of buzzing lights
bring me back to my old house
i wanna see that tree i used to climb

back when i was small
i don’t wanna be that
what if I can’t calm down, and i don’t have that in my bloodline?
what if the faces of the holy are just faces from a fantasy and i
i can’t see through their eyes?
although that i try

a struggle left undefined
asking for clarity doesn't justify the crime
and only if memory serves
how can you be certain of what was deserved?

now what if they were wrong?
i don’t wanna be that
what if i can’t calm down and i don’t have that in my bloodline? what if the faces of the holy are just faces from a fantasy
and i can’t see through their eyes?
although that i try

what if i can’t calm down and i don’t have that in my bloodline?
and what if the faces of the holy are just faces from a fantasy
and i and what if i can’t calm down and i don’t have that in my bloodline yeah what if the faces of the holy are just faces from a fantasy and i yeah what if i can’t calm down and i don’t have that in mine
yeah what if i can’t calm down and i don’t have that in mine
Track Name: pacify
far from where it all began
blind to consequence
silence from the only one who understands

slower if you want it to be
well i can change my speed
oh i can wait for you to tell me when to speak

wait until the morning came
you thought it would be safe
turns out it’s the same
even in the midday

but I don’t want to pacify you//with excuses
no i don’t wanna pacify you
seeing with a clearness
well this is what you get
blameless she runs back home to her man

turn away from bigger things
the bell of fear that rings
clarity, hides within complexity

but i don’t wanna pacify you//with excuses
no i don’t wanna pacify you
that seems useless
oh i don’t wanna pacify you
you’re not a child no i
don’t wanna pacify you
that seems wild
Track Name: jessica
when i get to thinking
i start worrying that you don’t know me anymore
worry takes me over
turn on the radio as if to ask for more

i hear "time casts its spell on you"
and i can't follow you i wont follow you around
broken i’ve seen what love can do
holding out for someone and your heart gets hollowed out

jessica
i forget
you shattered that reality
so i forget

triggered by a tragedy feeling sorry for
uncertainty you blamed me for
but blame cannot be placed upon
or hung beside a shadow you choose to ignore

and they say
time casts its spell on you
suddenly the mirror it turns itself around
but i’ve seen the deepest part of you
but i can’t act as though my voice can reach you now

jessica
i forget
you shattered my reality
i forget
i do i do forgive
i do i do forget
how does it move so fast? my god it moves so fast

jessica
i forgive
Track Name: yr heart [reprise]
your heart beats hard
like the pounding of the sparrow
on the window that faces the yard
and you are far but not that far
i can feel you push your fingers
through the fabric of all of my thoughts

and i thought i saw a falling star
go flying past the treeline
and start a fire in my backyard

and i let you see the part of me
they call it understanding
they call it vulnerability

and the voice rang ooooooh says
i will not harm you
i will not alarm you

and then i tried to get you on the line
but the busy tones were blaring
and there was someone from the other side

and you are heat, you are serenity
there's a million ways to fuck with fate
to justify what you need

and your voice rang ooooooh
says i will not harm you
i will not alarm you

and then that voice rang ooooooh
i will not delay you
i want to obey you

and then that voice rang ooooooh
i will not deceive you
i want to believe you

and then that voice rang ooooooh
says i will not harm you
i will not alarm you
Track Name: heat
heat beyond the lines of passion
Track Name: are you serious?
in between the tantrums
i know there’s understanding
there just has to be
otherwise why’d you mean so much to me?

and you up on the hill with your marble and your fabrics
you arrange by size
take me out of place and out line

she speaks clearly, tongue against her teeth
i walk backwards, slowly spiraling
to a place a used to fear
hey how’d we get back here?
are you serious?

using words like multiplicity
"hey how’d you get so much of me?"
well i gave it to you
seemed like the right thing for me to do

fall back into our patterns, then who decides what matters
when there are 2 of us?
you were out of reach and i was out of touch

she speaks clearly, tongue against her teeth
i walk backwards, slowly spiraling
to a place i used to fear
hey how’d we get back here?
are you serious?

are you serious

walk back to your apartment
the wall paper, the garden
it all fades away
in the bathtub with clay on my face
Track Name: wildfire
it splits in two
divide
your purple mountain majesty
a leader pushed aside

it comes around
surprise
you didn’t see it coming
now your leader’s out of line

i don’t know
where it all ends up
all this wasted time

california
only one who knows
how to burn without desire
like wildfire
wildfire

the risk you take
the pain in loss
coiled like a serpent hiding in between your thoughts
coiled like a serpent in us all

head to the wall
it’s gone
your systems overidden intuition takes the fall
you trust in intuition overall

i don’t know
where it all ends up
all this wasted time

california
only one who knows
how to burn without desire
like wildfire
Track Name: what’s the use
you were a dove you were peaceful in the morning
i’ve seen you start fires with your hands
you were a bruise on the back side of my ankle
i’ve seen you burn out and start again

what’s the use
what’s the use
what’s the use if you’re not trying to forgive?

you were a boulder destructive with your anger
i’ve seen you move mountains with your eyes
and i was afraid when i lost my identity
inside of you, i guess we were the same

what’s the use
what’s the use
what’s the use when
what’s the use if you’re not trying to forgive?
oh what’s the use if you’re not trying to forgive?

you were a dove so peaceful in the morning
but i’ve seen you take many different forms and
i was so sure that you had all the answers
because of you i'm capable of more
i’m capable of more

what’s the use if you’re not trying to forgive?
Track Name: guardrail/pwrline
watched it roll out
i heard it in your canyon blood
in your southern mouth

such a slow sound
i was humanized
disarmed by all the doubt

and how she leaves
her light on for my friend
it was confusing now it’s amusing
such a means unto an end

sun came up late
now you’re floating in the dullness
of the day

seeing no flame
no smoke or ash,
no fire that burns our names

and then you close your eyes
close it all out
you see guardrails and power lines
picture horses running
from the sound

every time i
try to speak i’m
paralyzed by what i see
i know i’m not a part of you that way
terrified by
what i seek you
can’t see what’s in
front of me i
know i’m not a part of you that way
i know i’m not a part of you that way

and then the colors
will tell you where you stand
i saw yellow i saw silver shining
blue i knew that i’d be here again
Track Name: what lovers do
packing up the pedals throw the petals on the floor
now i know what love is for
now i know what love is for

see it from a distance but the distance seems too far you don’t want to leave the garden
devil caught you way off guard

with your hands
halfway with your hands into the fire
halfway with your hands into the fire of my desire

asking you a question now the question seems so dumb
you thought i would not remember
how i was so overcome

cards are on the table but I can see right through
now i know what lovers do
now i know what lovers do

with your hands
halfway with my hands into the fire
halfway with my hands into the fire of my desire

but don’t you want to be allowed?

suddenly illuminated, truth is what was told
i am speechless in a driveway
as the oil stains the road

then i was told a secret but the secret was a lie
you said i don’t understand you
i said you don’t even try

with your hands
halfway with your hands into the fire
halfway with you hands into the fire of my desire

into the fire of my desire
into the fire of my desire

now I know what lovers do
Track Name: the book on how to change part II
when i want to misbehave
think about my mothers grave
and the book on how to change
wasn’t written in one day

if i had to rearrange
the messages they take their shape
like photographs taken from
the book on how to change

you are an anchor, holding
holding me under
i don’t have that memory

waking from the deepest sleep
the difference between life and dream
i thought i heard your voice
it was just the tv screen

on the brightest clear blue day
a boomerang, an aeroplane
suddenly wanting to negotiate

you are an anchor, holding
holding me under
i don’t have that memory
no i don’t have that memory
no i don’t have that

can’t survive on milk alone
or carving mirrors out of stone
i thought i heard your voice
it was just the telephone

when i want to feel misplaced
think about my mother’s face
and the book on how to change
never taught me anything

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