The Nashville-based Banditos finished up recording Right On, their third album, toward the end of 2019. Then came the historic pandemic that shuttered the world for about a year and a half. Then their label, the iconic Bloodshot Records, imploded, leaving them without a label. After a frustrating couple of years, the record is finally coming almost four years after their last. And just a minute into the boisterous, brilliant opening track, “Time Wasted,” all is forgiven. Across ten tracks the band pays off on the promise of their first two albums, delivering their most impressive collection of songs yet.
“Waves,” the very next song is a much slower affair, but one that beautifully spotlights Mary Beth Richardson’s striking vocals. Lyrically, the band is all over the place; on the infectious “Deepend Weekend” she sings about coming to grips with our role in the world (“Because we’re all nothing and everything,” said Richardson, describing the nature of the song. “We’re just little specks in space. We’re not insignificant, but everything is connected.”) Elsewhere, on the confidently strutting “On My Way,” Richardson sings about the life she’s chosen as a musician. The band is still at its core the same impressive Americana band that made its debut in 2015, but over the years they have added in a slew of inspired musical influences from funk to pop to psychedelic. The horns slathered all over Right On makes this already solid album an undeniable record, regardless of your preferred genre. This is also the first Banditos album where Richardson is the sole vocalist, no longer sharing the job with two bandmates. The crushingly heartbreak in her voice on “One More Time” is all the proof you need that this was clearly the right decision.
Years of waiting, marked by lineup changes, some impressive musical experimentation and I’m sure more than a little uncertainty, have led to Banditos creating their best album yet.