Sunday, January 12, 2014

Album Review - St Paul and the Broken Bones / Greetings from Birmingham, AL EP

I don't really listen to public radio.  I probably should.  Because this is not the only time that I have to credit them for a discovery.

I was getting in a work vehicle to fuel it up and 88.5 FM WXPN Public Radio from the University of Penn was on.  I reached to turn it off and something caught my attention.  They were announcing a new music discovery that was playing that night at The World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, PA.  It wasn't the hope of a hot new artist that caught my attention.  It was the description of this artist.  I am quoting below from my best recollection.

"Have you ever gone to a party and there is that nerdy guy sitting in the corner all to himself when suddenly Otis Redding comes on the radio and he comes to life?  Well this is that guy."

He was speaking about St Paul and the Broken Bones.

They next played 'Call Me' from their upcoming album. Had I not heard the into I may have thought I was listening to Otis Redding.  This is the antithesis of Southern Soul.  The horn section was killing it and this guy had a soulful voice that conveyed so many emotions that I thought as though this man was on a whole other level.  Not only was the music killer...but I just HAD to see this guy.

When the song was over I needed more.  I went to Spotify...nothing.  Rdio....nothing.  iTunes...nothing.  Amazon...nothing.  How could this be?  How could a band this good be invading my head yet not found anywhere???  I got back to the office and did a Google image search.

My first thought was that this man could not be St Paul.  It was an accountant.  Of doing his best impression of David Thomas from Pere Ubu.

It just did not add up.  I next searched YouTube and I could not believe my eyes.

There is always an instance when you finally see an artist sing the song that you've been grooving to and right away you feel like you're watching a YouTube hoax.  Could this really be true.  Very much like Susan Boyle's performance on X-Factor.  People HAD to watch because they just could not believe it.

It is as if I was watching an exorcism in a Southern Baptist Church.  That someone or something had possessed this man causing him to come to life.   He wasn't just singing this music, he was living it.  It was moving his body and his soul.  It did not only have the ability to move him but to move me as well.  I watched the video over and over.

Back to an original question, How is it that I could not find their music?  How is this not all over the place?  I needed way more and their new album was not coming out for another month.

Today, I finally found them on Bandcamp with a four song EP called Greetings from Birmingham, AL.  It was a lowly $4 bucks.  I threw my money at them and cursed my download speed while I waited for these gems to speak to me.

There are 2 upbeat songs and 2 slower songs that fill out this EP.  The mood for a January is surprisingly warm and rainy.  Today this will be my soundtrack.  The first track, 'Sugar Dyed Honey Pants' is strong and jumps right into it.  It starts out on fire with everything that you want and expect.  Spirited howls, a killer rhythm, and a horn section that rocks it.

The next track is a favorite.  Not only does it move your soul but it speaks to your heart.  It conveys pain and emotion.  It speaks more clearly than most people.  It is called, 'Broken Bones and Pocket Change'.

It is a lead in to the third track, 'That Glow' which is a haunting song.  A 50's type track that is dripping with sorrow.  It is hard to describe with words.  You just have to feel it.

They bring you back to life from despair with the final track, 'Champagne Halloween'.

This find was great...but I need more.  Their new album, Half the City is a month away.  Even fining information on them was a task.  The only informative meat I could find was on their Facebook Page.  The moniker St Paul comes from vocalist Paul Janeway's strong ties to the church.  His preaching comes through in their music.  He surrounded himself with the best musicians Alabama had to offer and hit the road, earning their keep like so many of their kind do.  I am upset that I missed their performance at the World Cafe Life.  One because it is a great venue but mainly because I do not know when the chance will come again.  I do have a feeling though that these guys will be around form some time to come. 

I'll see you when the needle drops!


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