Bob Seger once complained that, “Today’s music ain’t got the same soul.” At one time, I agreed with Mr. Seger. But then I heard a band by the name of St. Paul and The Broken Bones and now I am a believer. The band is a sextet band out of Birmingham, Alabama who is dripping with soul. Lead by lead vocalist Paul Janeway’s perfect blend of Gospel and the blues growl, the band carries on a rich tradition of Soul music that was created by the likes of Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Jackie Wilson. Despite being included in such legendary names of the past, the band is anything but a throwback act. They manage to pay respect to the past, while creating very current sound.
Make no mistake, despite a powerful front man, St. Paul is not a one man show. The Broken Bones are a tight group of musicians who command attention from their playing. Drummer and percussionist, Andrew Lee, and bassist, Jesse Phillips, provide a tight rhythm section while Browan Lollar lays down almost haunting guitar licks. The sound is rounded out by Allen Branstetter on trumpet and Ben Griner on trombone and tuba. Each player adds a pivotal layer to the band’s sound and would be greatly missed if taken out of the mix.
St. Paul and The Broken Bones released their first full length record, “Half the City” on Single Lock/ThirtyTigers records. Single Lock is the record company out of Muscle Shoals, AL that was started up by John Paul White of The Civil Wars and Ben Tanner of The Alabama Shakes. The nod from White and Tanner speak to that element of something special that the band has. To add to their credit, Tanner chose to produce the record himself.
“Half the City” as a whole is a brilliant record and should be enjoyed from start to finish. If you want to pick out a few gems to get a taste of the Alabama Phenomena, try “Call Me”, “Sugar Dyed” and this reviewer’s personal favorite “Broken Bones and Pocket Change.” To get the full affect of the album, turn the lights down low, pour a glass of something strong, and get lost in the sound that is St. Paul and The Broken Bones.