Music/Popular Culture

St. Paul & the Broken Bones: neo-Soul don’t get no more real than this

Normally I try and show you “official” videos when I write about bands, because that’s where you get the best audio fidelity. I think you’re going to see why I opted for the live vid in this case, though.

Sweet lord a’mighty.

A few days ago Carole McNall dropped a note on me: have you heard this group called St. Paul & the Broken Bones yet? No I hadn’t, but when Carole says give it a listen, history has taught me to run, don’t walk. NPR was featuring this latest Soul Revival outfit as part of its First Listen series, and I wasn’t halfway through the first track before I realized that something special was happening.

The debit CD, Half the City dropped yesterday. You can listen to it here.

Holy hell, people. This from a white boy?! I’ve listened to the disc several times now, and have also made my way through much of what’s on YouTube. It’s been awhile since I was this blowed away by a new act. I hear James Brown. I hear moments of Malford Milligan. I hear Otis Redding and Bobby Blue Bland. I hear a male version of Sharon Jones. I hear bits and snatches of – and this is as high as praise gets from me – Sam Cooke. I hear Percy Sledge, and I really want to know why I can’t find evidence that these guys have covered “When a Man Loves a Woman.”

Will somebody please get St. Paul & the Broken Bones out on tour with Ryan Shaw? And that tour bus damned well better roll through Seattle.

A couple weeks I was trying to talk Buzzfeed off the ledge. One of its reporters’ hair caught fire over the idea that John Newman is the new Amy Winehouse. Newman is certainly talented, I allowed, but there are others working the same neo-Soul vein who, while perhaps less fashionably Londony, are simply more gifted practitioners of the genre at this point in their careers.

This is what I was talking about. I hope someone will send Aylin Zafar, that Buzzfeed writer, a promo copy of Half the City. I’ll be interested to hear what she thinks.

If you’d like to see more of St. Paul & the Broken Bones performing, hit YouTube. For now, let’s leave you with this.

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