St. Paul and the Broken Bones bring back soul

A-St.-Pauls
St. Paul and the Broken Bones will be performing at Kilby Court on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of St. Paul and the Broken Bones.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones will be performing at Kilby Court on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of St. Paul and the Broken Bones.

From the late ’70s to the early ’90s, soul music lost its grit as artists polished its affective sounds, making them perfectly smooth. Wanting to take the genre back to its Southern roots, the band St. Paul and the Broken Bones is revisiting soul’s imperfections, honesty and passion.

Hailing from Alabama, St. Paul and the Broken Bones consists of seven people: lead vocalist Paul Janeway, bassist Jesse Phillips, guitarist Browan Lollar, trumpet player Allen Branstetter, drummer Andrew Lee, trombone and tuba player Ben Griner and keyboardist Al Gamble.

With so many artists, it’s difficult to believe that individuals are heard. However, this cohesive group stresses collaboration and understands that each individual brings authenticity to the table.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones’ music is influenced by undeniable soul powerhouses such as Curtis Mayfield, Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. Nonetheless, its eclectic list of influences doesn’t only stem from one genre — it also include names such as Big Star, Radiohead and even The Beatles.

“I guess for me personally, I try to approach music simplistically. Like, it’s all about the song and not necessarily about the effects,” Lollar said. “It’s really about what you can do with your fingers, a guitar and an amp.”

This simple approach results in bona fide music that has soul roots but also ties in R&B and Motown. Each track on their debut album “Half the City” swells with horns, steady rhythms, emotional depth and intense vocals by Janeway.

“When I first met Paul, he definitely went along with the ‘never judge a book by its cover’ thing,” Lollar said. “I think it shocks most everybody when that kind of voice comes out of someone who look likes an accountant, but after getting to know Paul, it’s so much a part of who he is that now it is natural.”

Although St. Paul and the Broken Bones doesn’t embody the traditional soul band look, its energetic live shows are certainly reminiscent of performers such as Al Green and James Brown. Their shows have created a lot of hype, and the group feeds off this excitement.

When it came to recording “Half the City,” every member agreed it was important to retain a live aspect in the studio. The posse recorded each track in the live setting of the renowned Nutthouse in Muscle Shoals, Ala. Recording the album live enabled St. Paul and the Broken Bones to retain the honesty and integrity of their music.

“We wanted to capture a live band. We wanted to see if we could do that because a lot of our favorite bands and recordings were basically live performances … Hopefully, it made it sound a little bit more honest,” Lollar said. “We wanted it to be rough around the edges because we feel like soul music lost that edge.”

Stand-out tracks on the LP include “Broken Bones and Pocket Change” and “Call Me.” “Broken Bones and Pocket Change” has a bluesy feel to it. “Call Me” begins with a funky guitar riff and a short blast of horns. It crescendos to an upbeat rhythmic section showcasing the band’s instrumental prowess.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones will perform at Kilby Court on Wednesday, April 16 at 7 p.m.

s.meyer@chronicle.utah.edu


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