Turn Me On: St. Paul and the Broken Bones

Posted by Jim Nelson on 10 February 2017

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If this was the early 1970s, Birmingham, Alabama’s St. Paul And The Broken Bones — with their stylish, horn-powered, Otis Redding-cum-Al Green-meets-early-Chicago, can’t-get-it-outta-your-head soul music — would own the airwaves and we’d all know their name.

 

Now two albums and two EPs into their career, St. Paul And The Broken Bones have hit the Top 60 on Billboard’s album chart (with their 2014 debut, Half The City), opened for The Rolling Stones (“He’s a cat who can do an Otis Redding — he’s very interesting to watch,” Keith Richards said of frontman Paul Janeway in Rolling Stone in 2015), and they’ve toured internationally. Sounds like a very nice beginning to a career.

As with every good story there’s usually an ironic twist, and in this case if not for a pastor’s runaway comment and a last hurrah of a recording session, St. Paul And The Broken Bones never would have happened.

Janeway — nicknamed “St. Paul” by his bandmates for his teetotaling, non-smoking ways — was going to become man of the cloth until his then-pastor made the mistake of telling him that Gandhi was probably burning in hell. Eyes thus opened, Janeway turned to accounting. As he studied tax codes and bottom lines, St. Paul sang in a mid-2000s blues-rock group in Birmingham that included bassist Jesse Phillips. When that band floundered, Janeway opted for the certainty of school while continuing his bank teller job.

 

 

Then something happened that changed the course of history; Phillips and Janeway began to write around Janeway’s voice, and when they came up with the sound of a song called “Broken Bones And Pocket Change” they knew they were on to something.

The puzzle was completed in 2012 when a friend invited Janeway and Phillips into his studio to record a song, a “last hurrah,” as it were, according to Janeway. Instead of the end of something, that song turned into the beginning of St. Paul And The Broken Bones.

Sea Of Noise, their fall 2016 sophomore CD that made my year-end Top-10 list, features several new St. Paul And The Broken Bones gems, including “Flow With It,” “All I Ever Wonder,” “Sanctify,” and “I’ll Be Your Woman.”

Keep in tune with the band by visiting their official site.


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