St. Paul and the Broken Bones Brings Alabama Soul to Coachella
By Hannah Weiner
If you close your eyes and hear Paul Janeway’s soulful pipes, you’ll picture the classic navy suit, the hip-twisting, and his mention of hometown Birmingham, Alabama between songs. But Janeway is classic “blue-eyed soul.”
Janeway leads the band St. Paul and the Broken Bones, a band that released its first album less than a year ago but has garnered national attention. He’ll contest that STPBB’s sound isn’t rooted in nostalgia—when you’re from the South, this soulfulness is just part of the gig. For a guy who grew up going to church, singing in the church choir, and listening to gospel, it sure doesn’t seem like he is trying to create a retro-soul group. He likes the realness—for him, the world needs a little bit more soul.
In thick glasses, Janeway could be an accountant (he studied to be one, after all). But during his performance on Saturday at Coachella, it wasn’t until he opened his mouth and bursted into “Call Me” that the electricity makes sense. He’s preaching to the choir—and it’s working. The more he wiggles, the more the audience’s feet tap. The louder he belts out “I need you, baby,” the bigger the audience’s smiles.
“I came here in 2008 to watch,” Janeway said before launching into “Call Me.” “But thank you for making this a dream come true.”
It helps that he has the foundation to back him up; the Broken Bones, consisting of fellow Alabamians on drums, horns, and piano, lit the match to Janeway’s fire. Jesse Phillips, the bassist, has been alongside Janeway for quite a few years now. The chemistry shows in a less overt way than most: the band has energy–holding it in smiles, rocking it back and forth, blasting it in unwavering musical strength.