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The soulful powerhouse St. Paul & The Broken Bones was kind enough to stop by the WERS studio this afternoon to play a couple tunes off their new record, Half The City. Surrounded by gospel and 70’s soul, lead singer Paul Janeway began the band out of his hometown of Chelsea, Alabama. Exposed to the Pentecostal religion at a young age, Janeway learned guitar from his pastor and began to perform at open mic nights throughout his early teens. When he became good enough, he would play and sing background vocals during Church every week.
“I always thought I would just do background vocals. I never really thought I could sing,” Janeway commented. Though his childhood dream was to be a pastor, his love of music developed far past his religious background. Janeway quickly developed a sincere passion for soulful rock & roll and wished nothing more than to make a band. Soon finding band mates who shared his passion, St. Paul & The Broken Bones began to work on their debut release.
That release, titled Half the City, has skyrocketed the band into Rock & Roll fame. Ranked 12th among Rolling Stone’s “48 Best Things We Saw at SXSW,” the band has been ranked an up-and-coming powerhouse by The Austin Chronicler, Rolling Stone, and NPR. Their debut album has received nothing but positive reviews. NPR claims it has “regenerated the lost sound of Southern Soul,” while Esquire deemed St. Paul & The Broken Bones “Your New Southern Soul Band.” During their live performance in our studio the band left no holds barred and had everyone in the WERS booth dancing away the afternoon.
Beginning with the title track off of their album, the band burst with the sounds reminiscent of Ray LaMontagne and Marc Broussard. Don’t let Janeway’s stout and timid appearance fool you, the man belted like something out of a gospel choir. They then proceeded to play their lead single titled “Call Me,” which brought back the sound of Otis Redding and James Brown. Before diving into their third power ballad titled “Broken Bones & Pocket Change,” the band took a moment to speak with us.
The fun-loving gentlemen informed us that their debut album was actually recorded in one fell swoop. Janeway believes that recording in one take “leaves room for emotion,” and “really makes you just feel it.” They said the comparisons to soulful powerhouses James Brown and Otis Redding were flattering, and that as a band they were incredibly enthusiastic about “soul’s timeless sound.” They never thought their band would succeed as much as they have thus far. The friendly compassion they showed us, in combination with their groovy sound, made them stick out as one of the best in studio performances this year. The band is currently on tour supporting their newfound success, and gives a performance not worth missing. Half The City is in stores now for anyone who needs to sooth the weekday blues with a little feel-good soul.