25 September 2023

Young Sick Camellia

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Reviewed by Ian Phillips.

By St Paul & The Broken Bones, Sony Music 2018.

St Paul & The Broken Bones is an octet from Birmingham, Alabama, who have developed an interesting sound that is a mix of soul, rock ‘n’ roll, R&B and funk, with some big band jazz overtones.

In a way they are a new embodiment of Blood Sweat & Tears and Chicago, I certainly hear some aspects of those outfits in their sound, especially in the use of brass.

For this release the band teamed up with celebrated hip-hop/dance producer Jack Splash (Kendrick Lamar, Diplo, Alicia Keys).

Their previous album, Sea Of Noise (2016), firmly established the group as a thoughtful and socially conscious band who had much to say.

They featured in Rolling Stone and were praised in reviews from the music press and mainstream media including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Vanity Fair.

Their heady mix of dance grooves and lyrics that make you think led to appearances on The Late Show, CBS Saturday Morning and Austin City Limits.

The band has an impressive front man and lead singer in Paul Janeway who writes the lyrics.

He has an outstanding vocal range and when backed by a band with the power displayed by The Broken Bones they produce something quite special.

Where Sea Of Noise was an outward looking commentary on the state of American society Young Sick Camellia is introspective and the lyrics pose questions about how we communicate with those near and dear to us.

How do we relate to people who have different thoughts and opinions to our own and who’s different life experiences are diametrically opposed to ours?

Janeway has explored how each generation views the preceding one and what lessons we can learn from this interaction.

This lyrical content is a long way from teenage angst and love won and lost of most pop songs.

St Paul & The Broken Bones is a real find.

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