Sugar The Bruise by Hand Habits Album Review by Greg Walker for Northern Transmissions


Sugar The Bruise

Hand Habits

“I’m aching / to see you again / mistaken / beginning inside of the end,” Meg Duffy sings to open their latest album, Sugar The Bruise, a short offering of songs that they call a “novella or short film” of sorts. It is six songs that came from a songwriting workshop that they bravely and nervously put on with School of Song in August of 2021, and though they started with prompts, the songs are an exercise in improvisation and a losing yourself in the bigger process of creation. A process that Duffy says has always connected them to something bigger than themself.

“Is there something wrong with that?” they ask on the same song, a song about wanting to connect deeply with friends. But being willing to make mistakes, they say, is the lynch pin of creativity. The second song, in meta form, speaks about songwriting directly: “The greatest songwriter / of the universe / is accurately describing / the gift of the human curse.” Whether it’s hyperbole, or a recounting of one of Duffy’s favorite songwriters, is beside the point. “And we all sing along / we all sing along / with her.”

Whether it’s the closing song’s centerpiece, “The Bust of Nefertiti,” or Duffy’s recounting of a relationship where they were kept private, called “Private Life,” and the hurt that that caused them, the purpose of art is to connect to another’s experience and find ourselves in it. It is emboldening to think that something that we write can resonate so deeply with another soul, and it is Duffy’s vulnerability at letting these songs out into the world, wonderfully produced songs with their friends, Luke Temple and Jeremy Harris, that adds a depth to already deep songs.

Three successful albums in, Duffy said that they allowed the songs to take the form that best fit for these songs, which turned out much different than they ever expected they would. Fitting for the improvisational nature of their relationship with music, there is even a captivating instrumental track, “The Book On How To Change Pt. 3.” It is a musician and songwriter’s love letter to themself and to the world, and anyone who has dived deep into Hand Habits before is in for a rich if short offering.

“Why is she in Germany? / The Bust of Nefertiti,” is the compelling question to end and album of ends and new beginnings. Where these songs will travel is now out of Duffy’s hands. But they are expertly crafted songs, made with great imagination and reflection and honesty. And they are sure to end up doing what they were created to do: help the listeners of the songs to be inspired to lose themselves in the bigger picture of life, with all of its loss and love.

Order Sugar The Bruise by Hand Habits HERE


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