Here’s a voice that’ll grab you by the lapels, shake you to your feet, and then shake the earth below for good measure. Soul singer Paul Janeway (nicknamed “St. Paul”) works a microphone like Otis Redding and works a stage like James Brown. It’s a combustive combination for such an unassuming guy – all the more powerful in its surprise, emotional depth, and ferocity. In fact, when St. Paul and The Broken Bones recently caught the eye and ear of Keith Richards, they were promptly invited to tour as opening act for The Rolling Stones. (No coincidence that Janeway grew up aspiring to be a fire & brimstone preacher – that’s how he earned his moniker.)
Just two albums and six years in as a band, the Alabama-based octet has become the standard bearers for the new soul movement. But more than a simple revival, their brassy sound sweats, stomps and blasts an entire regeneration of the genre. On the new album, Sea of Noise, they dive into deeper waters with more complex songwriting and lyrics, and richer production. Where the first album rocks, this one sways, as Janeway sings of racial violence, political unrest and moral uncertainty. Musical influences draw from sources as diverse as Prince and Otis Redding, Portishead and James Bond film composer John Barry. A few high points: Dig the psychedelic funk of “Midnight on Earth,” the Otis gospel groove of “Burning Room,” or the Staxinspired horns of “Flow With It.” And please try to catch the band live when they roll through your town.