Standout Track: No. 1, “Step in Line,” an aching, banjo-led ballad from Letitia VanSant and the Bonafides’ first full-length LP, Parts and Labor, which dropped last month. The track oozes bluegrass humility, a trait the band—singer/songwriter Sandy Robson, guitarist David McKindley-Ward, drummer Will McKindley-Ward, and bassist Tom Liddle—uses to spin tales about today’s work-obsessed culture. “Nearly all of the songs on this album, in various ways, say that our lives and communities are meant to be more than parts and labor to the machine of our economy,” Robson says.
Musical Motivation: Robson, a longtime social justice advocate, penned the beginnings of “Step in Line” while living in Baltimore and enduring a daily commute to D.C. on the MARC train. She latched onto the universality of her dilemma: “How can our society set its priorities straight and allow people to spend time on the things that are most important, like spending time with family?”
Train Spotting: The nostalgic sound of “Step in Line” is rooted in Robson’s passion for humble artistry. “I wrote this song when I had recently fallen in love with old-time music,” she says, “which involves so much less ego than other kinds of music, and is much more focused on the community and the joy of playing.” That classic Americana influence is especially evident in the song’s strummy instrumentation. “It seemed like the frailing rhythm fit the sound of the train.”
Stream “Step in Line” after the jump.