“Right On” has all the earmarks of a throwback classic. With its simmering CCR groove and slow-build arrangement, the title track to Banditos’ third album (out May 20 on Egghunt) is a push-and-pull exercise in tension and release. It’s the aural equivalent of powering through sluggish traffic on a morning commute with your favorite new tune to keep you company.
“Me and (guitarist) Corey (Parsons) sat at the kitchen table with a bottle of tequila,” says singer Mary Beth Richardson of the humble origins of the track. “I had some lyrics, he had his own ideas, and we just put them together. It’s the quintessential anthem to yourself to keep going—and I love a good anthem.”
The song is also the perfect showcase for Richardson, who’s now officially the group’s lead vocalist after two albums of sharing those duties with other members. “It ended up being a band decision, and I fought it a little bit,” she says. “I have a lot anxiety, and being that person wasn’t my idea of a great time.”
Right On is also the first Banditos album without bassist Jeffrey “Danny” Vines, who left to start a family. Banjo player Stephen Pierce has since added bass to his repertoire, and the group hasn’t missed a beat as a quintet. Banditos’ sound continues to evolve, especially with a powerful female voice as its new focal point. The songwriting has tightened up, and Richardson’s presence has lent nuance and vulnerability to an ever-morphing oeuvre that incorporates country, soul, R&B, rock and folk.
Right On was recorded with producer Jordan Lehning (Caitlin Rose, Joshua Hedley) in Nashville, Banditos’ home for 10 years since relocating from their native Birmingham, Ala. Finishing the album in 2019, the band made the decision to sit on it until the smoke cleared from the pandemic. “It was frustrating” says Richardson. “But we saw all of our buddies releasing stuff and not being able to tour.”
Richardson has also been mulling her new role as Banditos’ official frontperson onstage. “I’m the queen of stage talk,” she says with obvious sarcasm. “When things are off, I won’t say a thing. But when it feels good, it’s like I’m floating. And that’s what you want every time.”
We’re proud to premiere “Right On” today at MAGNET.