Neil Young’s timeless I Believe In You from his 1970 masterpiece After The Gold Rush is reinterpreted in a majestic new version by Hand Habits, aka LA session guitarist Meg Duffy. 

 

If you’re a fan of Neil Young – and if you’re not, then why not?! – then you’ll be understandably apprehensive about anyone tackling his material. Especially the songs from his golden era in the early Seventies. 

But this interpretation of I Believe In You from arguably Young’s most enduring album, After The Gold Rush, demands attention. It’s simply spellbinding, the contrast between the raw strum of electric guitar and the delicate vocals simultaneously evoking the plaintive beauty of the original and imbuing it with new layers of poignancy.

Others have covered it in the past – Linda Ronstadt, Rita Coolidge and an odd synthy version by Robin Zander of Cheap Trick – but Hand Habits nails it almost as definitively as Young himself. 

Hand Habits is the alter ego of Meg Duffy, who has played session guitar with Weyes Blood, William Tyler and The War On Drugs – that slide guitar solo on Holding On, from the Grammy winning album A Deeper Understanding is Duffy’s – and the song appears on their new EP Dirt alongside the previously acclaimed 4th of July, out on Saddle Creek on 19 February 202 1.

Recorded in Los Angeles, where New York-born Duffy now lives with musicians Sasami Ashworth and Kyle Thomas (King Tuff), I Believe In You was recorded with them and produced by Thomas at his home studio there.

It follows Hand Habits’ previous album Placeholder, recorded 2,000 miles away at Justin Vernon’s April Base Studio in Wisconsin, and 2017 debut Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void), and there is something of the shimmering fragility of Vernon’s vocals, as well as the sensitivity of Elliott Smith and the raw passion of Angel Olsen’s early work about the sound.

The EP is available for pre-order now; out 19 February 2021 via Saddle Creek. 

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More of Hand Habits at their official website, Bandcamp, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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All words by Tim Cooper. You can find more of Tim’s writing on Louder Than War at his author’s archive. He is also on Twitter as @TimCooperES.

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