Album Review: Half the City

Half the City

Half the City
St. Paul and the Broken Bones
Single Lock Records, 2014 (SL003)
SOUL

Hmmm, Half the City, the album released by St. Paul and the Broken bones was a bit of a disappointment. I first saw and heard Paul Janeway and his band on NPR, and later they turned up in my FB feed courtesy of a friend’s interest. I purchased the LP directly from Single Lock Records and finally dropped the needle on it this evening. Part of the appeal of the lead vocalist is the unexpected sound of soul coming from the rather energetic form of a white accountant, some great press and well produced videos. But gimmickry aside, without the visuals and simply listening to the music on Half the City, you can’t help but notice that 10 out of 12 of the songs are remarkably similar in displaying Janeway’s sound, and that the other two songs are different only for having a slower tempo. Side B shows a little bit more variation, but not much  :-/  The album is not nearly as well mixed as the videos: There is a denseness to the session/backup musicians’ sound. The saxophones in particular threaten to drown out Janeway, and the whole of the brass section is very hard. And finally, there’s something else missing: Janeway sings soul, but does he really have the heart for it? I have to ask, but because, seriously folks, I’m not feeling it. It would be better to pull out some Sam Cooke, or even The Commitments soundtrack (Andrew Strong.) Still, I wouldn’t mind seeing St. Paul and the Broken Bones in concert 🙂

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