Music/Popular Culture

St. Paul & the Broken Bones: Paul Janeway may already be one of the greatest Soul/R&B singers in history (Saturday Video Roundup)

“I have seen the future of music and the name of the band is St. Paul and the Broken Bones.” – Rosanne Cash

Photo by David A. Smith/DSmithImages

Otis Redding. James Brown. Wilson Pickett. Marvin Gaye. Smokey Robinson. Al Green. Stevie Wonder. Van Morrison. Sam Cooke.

And now, Paul Janeway.

Sometimes I make bold predictions. Sometimes they might sound a little outlandish, and my friends will encourage me to step away from the ledge. Maybe this is one such time, but I don’t think so. I recently discovered a band called St. Paul & the Broken Bones, and have very quickly come to suspect that in front man Paul Janeway we’re seeing the early days of a legendary talent.

Simply put, while he’s currently only in his early 20s, before he’s done we’re going to be including him in that pantheon I list above: the greatest Soul/R&B singers of all time. If he died tragically today – and please gods, let’s hope he lives to be 100 – I’m not sure we wouldn’t put him there now, based solely on an EP, the staggering new CD (probably as good a debut as I can recall ever hearing), a handful of videos and a series of live performances that have left audiences and critics with their jaws hanging open. And, reportedly, Rosanne Cash, who knows a thing or two about music, with tears in her eyes.

I’ve been listening to the band for a few weeks now. Last night I found myself lying in bed and instead of reading, which is what I normally do before I go to sleep, I was watching his videos on YouTube and just shaking my head. The damned things are like Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies – I just can’t stop at one, no matter how hard I try.

Accuse me of hyperbole if you like. But go listen to Half the City and watch a few videos, then come back and explain to me how I’m wrong.

Happy Saturday.

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