Every person who’s ever directed a film about a big-shot city-slicker making his foray into small-town American life believes in Banditos the way they believe in gravity—their existence is a practical fact of life that remains largely unexamined. In “Healin’ Slow,” whose video we’re pleased to be premiering today, the Birmingham/Nashville group play the kind of slow, stately country-soul that, to an outsider, seems like it must seep out of the red clay of lower Appalachia. It feels elemental, pained, and real—authentic, to use yet another charged word. Their sound is the soft burn of traditionalism smoldering in ennui. It’s a sound that could be bottled and sold alongside a can of boiled peanuts.
None of which is true, at least not in full. What is known is that there aren’t very many bands who can do what Banditos do so well on “Healin’ Slow,” which is to brush a painful lost-love ballad with just enough psychedelic dust to keep it feeling current. It’s a showcase for singer Mary Beth Richardson, who can coo like Loretta Lynn doing “She’s Got You” and wail like Janis Joplin on the fray. The band muscle up behind her as the song enters its final turn, but they resist the temptation to turn this thing into a freakout that would belie the patience of the song’s title. Instead, they keep it tightly coiled, making “Healin’ Slow” a gorgeously painful meditation, rather than a quick flash of relief.