St. Paul and the Broken Bones keep the flame alive for high-octane and hard-driving music – raw and sweaty, classy, brassy and sometimes brash. This is music in league with contemporary groups like the Daptones, Delvon Lamar Organ Trio, Gary Clarke Jr., and Menahan Street Band, etc., that proudly takes the groundwork laid by Muscle Shoals, Traffic, and Ike And Tina Revue and puts it dead center in the present day. Soul artistry from real places, spiritually and geographically, that comes from deep within. Not retro, but forging on.
If this sounds like a too-bold statement, you can witness it for yourself when St. Paul and the Broken Bones bring their new album Young Sick Camellia to life on Saturday, Dec. 8, at Plaza Live. Lead singer Paul Janeway says, "We're putting more production into our show more than ever, and cover a lot of musical ground, and it's a blast. The funk and the groove to rock and electronic overtones."
Laneway cops hesitantly to the retro tag: "Obviously, we don't like the retro label, I think it pigeonholes you. We definitely have that horns, B-3 organ element, we like a good bassline, some groove on the drums and some backbeat, that funk and soul is in us, and will always be. But I think we have gone beyond that label and are making music that is going forward. We're going to play the way we play, and I'm going to sing the way I sing."
Young Sick Camellia is a song cycle and the first of a trilogy; an ode to the bands Southern family roots woven together by instrumental segues like "Cave Flora" featuring Janeway's grandfather. The songs run the gamut of tempo, tone, and emotion, check the albums closer "Bruised Fruit" and see if your feet aren't tired and your eyes aren't crying. The musical influences aren't worn so heavily on the sleeve this time. The Broken Bones have arrived at their own sound.
The proof is in tunes like "NASA", with its ethereal Leslie-amped guitar. The call and response between Janeway and the horn section on "Apollo" is infectious. The baroque "Hurricane" takes a somber yet beautiful turn with acoustic guitar and strings undulating as a bed for the rhythm. The strings return as one of the driving forces behind "Concave," in cahoots with Fender Rhodes, tambourine, and some groovy drumming that create walls of sound that echo ELO.
Those looking to shake a tailfeather need to search no further. More bang is added to your buck in opening act the Seratones, whose raucous take on surf and punk should make this show a religious soul experience as well as an opportunity to burn a few holiday calories.
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