Artist: St. Paul and the Broken Bones
Album: Half the City
Reviewer: Khadeidra Allen
Where should I begin? Should I start with the text I received from a friend about a small band from Birmingham, Alabama that I “just had to listen to!” or should I start with how I clicked the link to the NPR website showcasing a few samples St. Paul and the Broken Bones’ music and was completely taken aback by what I heard. A seven member band consisting of a lead singer with six other musicians notably guitarist Browan Lollar who also played in Jason Isbell’s band. The first song I listened to off of their Ben Tanner, keyboardist for the Alabama Shakes, produced debut album was ‘Broken Bones and Pocket Change’ a song describing the anguish after a bad break up. Enduring pain and humiliation only to be left with nothing. Typos and all I rushed to my phone to text my friend who recommended the band
“He sounxs like freakign Al Green!”
Yes, this small band of seemingly bland musicians were producing a huge nostalgic soulful sound reminiscent of Al Green clearly picking up influences from Sam Cooke, Otis Redding with a tad bit of Donny Hathaway. Though coming in a couple of years behind the retro music trend reestablished by Bruno Mars, Amy Winehouse, Duffy, early Adele and early Chrisette Michele St. Paul and the Broken Bones is right on time with their 50-60s soul/blues sound with a pop twist . Lead singer Paul Janeway possesses pipes that would make you feel the gospel. Stomping your feet and waving your hands, having grown up in the church himself Janeway is on track to be a great contender to the likes of big voices such as Jennifer Hudson, Mary Mary and Karen Clark Sheard.
After buying their debut album Half the City and listening to it in it’s entirety for weeks straight I purchased tickets to their show at the Bowery Ball Room. To say St. Paul and the Broken Bones knows how to put on a great show is an understatement. With lead singer Janeway’s little jig similar to that of James Brown and the rest of the band playing each instrument in perfection synchronization the amount of energy from start to finish was astounding. The crowd including myself couldn’t keep up with the dancing and singing produced by the band. Sounding identical to the album is no small feat but the band managed to do so anyway even the wails and run-ons from their lead single ‘Call Me’ were done to perfection. With their album only being 12 short songs, as to not disappoint fans at the end of the set they proceeded to do Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Rolling Stones covers to fill out the time. Very rarely is a rendition better or equal to the original but the band did a great job. Seeing them live at the Bowery Ball Room after traveling an hour in 10 degree weather was so worth it. For up coming shows and links to their music you can check out St. Paul and the Broken Bones here http://stpaulandthebrokenbones.com/.