We’d be lying if we said that we didn’t think Meg Duffy of Hand Habits wasn’t one of the best songwriters in music today. Aside from working with multitudes of artists, her last album placeholder was a magnificent staple of writing mastery. Alongside various other offerings between then and now, her new E.P. dirt brings us back to fawning her with praise. Produced by Sasami Ashworth, the three songs here exhibit lush arrangements, wonderful perspective and the perfect blend on tones and songwriting that showcase Duffy’s strengths as an artist.
The opening track “4th of july” is simply mesmerizing. In fact it’s so well crafted and arranged that we think it’s one of the best songs of 2021 so far. Duffy opens up with an immediate hook from the acoustic guitar. As her vocals come onto the song her tender vocals match the folk based hues of the track. The backing vocals offer a bit more weight yet it isn’t needed while these backing drums fill your ears with excitement. When the bridge comes in, oh wow it’s just so everything. The pedal steel, the extra guitars and the magical notes of Duffy’s voice is about as perfect as music gets.
Followed by the Neil Young cover of “i believe in you,” Duffy changes gears. With the piano and a riff that chugs a bit, the vocals come in like a distant memory. Tackling the After The Gold Rush song with her own style, this version offers a more pensive tone that makes it its own thing. If that’s a gamble then it pays off and then some. The way the vocals double and add weight, the measures feel loose while remaining succinct and Duffy has won you over again.
The final song, a Katie Day remix of the placeholder song “what’s the use” also hits in a new way. Stripped of its original somber tone, here the use of house and techno mixes together with auto-tuned vocals to reinvent what the song can be. It’s a masterful take on the song. While the orginal bookmarked the album it came on, here it ends things in a joyful sound that you can’t help but adore.
The dirt E.P. is available to stream above or wherever you stream music. It’s also available to purchase as a seven inch vinyl or digitally directly from Saddle Creek Records.
Image Credits: Photo by Kovi Konowiecki.