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Standout Track: No. 3 “Roundhouse,” the lone original on the D.C. quartet’s debut album. The country-blues number about a woman’s cheatin’ heart features lead vocalist Sarah Nagel, 28, harmonizing with guitarist Shea Shackelford over fiddle and banjo. It’s the first song Nagel has written.
Musical Motivation: The refrain, “I’m going down to the roundhouse/Get myself turned around,” is kind of “an indigenous phrase” in Nagel’s family, she says. Her great-grandfather worked in a rail yard, repairing trains in the roundhouse and then turning them around to send them back into service. The Nagels still allude to his job when suggesting that someone might need an attitude adjustment.
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“Any sort of talking back, whining—that wasn’t really tolerated,” Nagel says. “They’d say, ‘Girl, you gotta get down to the roundhouse and get turned around!’ It means, ‘Whatever you’re doing, you gotta stop it right now.’”
SWITCHING VENUES: Nagel wrote “Roundhouse” about two years ago, with the goal of presenting “one small, simple idea that is…going to stick with people.” She then brought the song to Shackelford, who’d recently heard her doing a karaoke version of “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and asked her to play with him. “[It] was a hard thing to do,” she says. “I thought, God, this might be so stupid. He’s going to laugh.”
Although he didn’t, a few folks did when she played the song at her family’s Thanksgiving last year. “All my aunts and uncles cracked up,” she says. “I figured if everyone else hates it for the rest of my life, if they like it, it would be enough.” —Rachel Beckman