Bartees Strange has shared the latest single from his much-anticipated second album Farm to Table, “Hold the Line.” A mournful, subtly twangy slow burn, the song was written in late May of 2020, and inspired by George Floyd’s daughter, Gianna, who was just six years old when her father was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer.
“I remember watching George Floyd’s daughter talk about the death of her father and thinking wow—what a sad introduction to Black American life for this young person. It was painful to watch her grow up in that moment, like all Black kids eventually do,” Strange says in a statement. “’Hold the Line’ was written over the course of three days during that first pandemic summer. Through this song I was trying to make sense of what was happening in the U.S., my neighborhood and my community at that moment. During the marches, people were trying to stop the bleeding, locked arm in arm, doing everything they could to hold the line.”
Over resonant but spare guitar, keys, bass and drums, Strange puts himself in Gianna’s place (“See that baby, see that child / Can’t imagine what’s running through her young mind now”), then offers to put himself in George’s, crooning, “Take my life, trade in mine / He had everything I wish I had, I can’t even lie.” In the song’s heart-wrenching choruses, Strange asks, “What happened to the man with that big ol’ smile? / He’s callin’ to his mother now,” which later becomes, “I’m callin’ to my mother now,” with guitar and keys then mimicking the melody’s steps, as if keeping a memory alive. We return repeatedly to Strange’s guitar gently weeping, his expressive solos saying just as much as his lyrics.
“Hold the Line” is Strange’s third Farm to Table single, following March’s “Heavy Heart” and April’s “Cosigns.” The artist’s 4AD debut, the album is due out on June 17. One day later, Strange will play a newly announced show at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles—tickets go on sale June 4.
Listen to “Hold the Line” and see Strange’s tour dates below.
Bartees Strange Tour Dates:
13 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Block Party
18 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Getty
03 – Werchter, BE @ Rock Werchter 2022
04 – Cologne, DE @ Helios37
05 – Hamburg, DE @ Molotow
07 – Berlin, DE @ Badehaus
09 – Madrid, ES @ Mad Cool Festival 2022
11 – Munich, DE @ Milla
12 – Fribourg, CH @ Festival Les Georges
13 – Rees-Haldern, NL @ Haldern Pop Bar
14 – Amsterdam, NL @ Upstairs @ Paradiso
16 – Leeds, GB @ Community Room @ Brudenell Social Club
17 – Manchester, GB @ Night & Day Café
19 – Cardiff, GB @ Clwb Ifor Bach
20 – Brighton, GB @ Patterns
21 – London, GB @ Powerhaus
22 – Suffolk, GB @ Latitude Festival
29 – Omaha, NE @ Maha Festival 2022
07 – Calgary, AB @ Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
08 – Bonner, MT @ KettleHouse Amphitheater
09 – Ogden, UT @ Ogden Amphitheater
10 – Dillon, CO @ Dillon Amphitheater
13 – North Adams, MA @ MASS MoCA
26 – Toronto, ON @ Budweiser Stage
01 – Columbia, MD @ All Things Go Music Festival