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St. Paul and the Broken Bones (Birmingham, Ala.)
Half the City, the debut album from Soul septet St. Paul and the Broken Bones, is one of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2014. Coupled with the group’s sizzling live show, the band has also quickly become a fan favorite. Backed by the musicians’ impeccable chops, which ring with authoritative authenticity, frontman Paul Janeway (who grew up in a devoutly religious household in the South and was rarely allowed to listen to secular music) has a voice that has deservedly earned comparisons to the greatest Soul legends of the ’50s/’60s/’70s. Janeway sings with the fervor of a preacher, something he strove to become when he was growing up, a career path that was detoured by some open mic visits in his late teens. He dove deep into classic Soul music and, as his powerhouse voice shows, he began to inhabit those songs. The band pulled together some of the best young players in Alabama, each of whom also seems to possess an uncannily deep understanding of the raw feeling that goes into making old-school Soul music, allowing them to write songs together that are so pure and honest, no one could be blamed for thinking they were listening to a track from 1964 and not 2014. Word is the group’s live show is transcendent.
YDIIYD: Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Al Green. (MB)