St. Paul & The Broken Bones

St. Paul & The Broken Bones

Israel Nash

Thu, March 30, 2017

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

$30.00

This event is all ages

Presented by KXT 91.7

St. Paul & The Broken Bones
St. Paul & The Broken Bones
Sea of Noise, the second full-length album by St. Paul and the Broken Bones, marks a quantum leap in sound and style for the high-voltage Birmingham, Alabama-based band.

Produced by Paul Butler and recorded at Nashville’s Sound Emporium, the group’s sophomore effort features an expanded eight-piece lineup of the widely praised soul-based rock unit. Longtime members Paul Janeway (lead vocals), Jesse Phillips (bass, guitar), Browan Lollar (guitars), Andrew Lee (drums), Al Gamble (keyboards), and Allen Branstetter (trumpet) are joined by Jason Mingledorff (saxophone, clarinet, flute), and Chad Fisher (trombone).

The collection of new original songs is the group’s first release on RECORDS, a joint venture of SONGS Publishing, winner of ASCAP’s 2016 independent publisher of the year award, and veteran label executive Barry Weiss.

Sea of Noise is a successor to the Broken Bones’ 2013 debut album Half the City, which introduced the group’s blazing mating of ‘60s soul fire – daubed with latter-day influences like Sly Stone, David Bowie, and Prince — to Janeway’s impassioned singing and writing. The new album witnesses a deepening and broadening of the unit’s musical reach and lyrical concerns.

“It felt like it happened organically,” Janeway says of the band’s development. “With the last record, it was like doing things with your hair on fire – going in, recording it live. There’s a sense of urgency to having a record like that. We were only a band for about five months at that point. I didn’t know my voice – I’d never done this professionally. I was just learning more nuance, and about carrying a melody. You don’t have to go for it 100% all the time. You can draw people in by giving and taking.”

Janeway says that he and his close musical associate Phillips began to ponder the direction of the band’s second album a year and a half ago. “If we had been forced to go into a studio a year and a half ago, we probably would have done a better version of Half the City,” he says. “There would have been nothing wrong with that. But we started evolving, or changing.”

Work began in earnest during last year’s Coachella festival in California: “We rented a house in San Bernardino Valley National Park. The week in between the two weekends, we really started to hash things out. Then we rented out a very hot warehouse in Birmingham where we could write. And me and Jesse and a few of us would send stuff back and forth via Dropbox. That gave me the ability to work on harmonies on the vocals. I wanted to take it up a notch, in all realms.”

Looking to such inspirations as Tom Waits and Nick Cave, Janeway was intent on lifting his game as a songwriter on material for the second album. “I’m married to a woman with a masters in literature, and I can’t show her lyrics unless I’m pretty proud of ‘em,” he says. “I had to sit and think about what I’m saying – what do I want to say, is there anything to say? What’s my perspective as this Southern kid who’s watching the modern world and feeling very much like an alien in a lot of ways. This is more personal. If you’re going to say something, say something, and don’t waste your breath unless you feel like you’re saying something.”

Janeway adds that his reading of the book Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, played a role in the direction of the work: “I didn’t want it to be an overly political record, but I feel it shows up a little bit on the album.”

With a full complement of new songs in hand, St. Paul and the Broken Bones entered the studio with Butler, leader of the British band the Bees and producer of Devendra Banhart and Michael Kiwanuka.

“Jesse was listening to one of his records and he said, ‘Everything sounds great,’” Janeway recalls. “It sounded like a real record – everything had depth, and was expansive-sounding. Butler ended up being the guy that we wanted to use. Producer-wise, I think we knocked a home run. He is very meticulous.”

On Sea of Noise, the band’s brawny horn-driven sound is augmented – and displaced — by the use of a string quartet and a vocal choir. The strings – recorded at Memphis’ historic Sam Phillips Recording by engineer Jeff Powell – were arranged by Lester Snell, a veteran of Stax Records sessions by Isaac Hayes, Shirley Brown, Albert King, and the Staple Singers, among many others. Janeway says of Snell, “He did all these classic, great records in Memphis – he did the string arrangements on them. The strings, for us, supply a darker tone. Horns sometimes can’t portray a certain darkness. We thought that would be the best option, instead of horn lines. We have songs on this record that don’t have any horns at all.”

Employed on “Crumbling Light Posts,” the recurring motif that appears three times on the album, Jason Clark and the Tennessee Mass Choir were recorded in another legendary Memphis facility. “The Stax Museum let us go in there after hours and record the choir,” Janeway says, adding with a laugh. “We said, ‘Well, hell, we’re in Memphis, let’s just see if they’ll do it.’ It was pretty neat, I’m not gonna lie.”

He says of the finished work, “Sea of Noise is not quite a full-blown concept record. It is focused in terms of subject matter – finding redemption and salvation and hope. ‘Crumbling Light Posts’ comes from an old Winston Churchill quote, in which he said England was a crumbling lighthouse in a sea of darkness. I always thought that was a really interesting concept – that we’re falling anyway. In this day and age, it is the noise that has defined so many things. We’re going to fall to it eventually, but for now we feel like our heads are above water. It felt anthemic.”

The album’s lyrical and emotional richness is heard loudly in stunning new compositions like “Burning Rome” (which Janeway describes as “a letter to God, if I could write it”) and the startling “I’ll Be Your Woman,” which knocks traditional soul music gender roles on their heads. Janeway says of the latter song, “I wrote that with Jesse, and he said, ‘If I can write that song, I can die a happy man, because I’ve finally made something that I feel can stand up to my standards.’”

St. Paul and the Broken Bones, which toured extensively in the U.S. and Europe behind their debut album, will put their take-no-prisoners live show on the road this fall. Their most recent concert work included arena dates opening for the Rolling Stones in Atlanta and Buffalo. Some acts may have been daunted by such a task, but not this one.

“It was pretty neat, it was pretty crazy,” Janeway says. “I love the Rolling Stones, but my train of thought is, you gotta try and blow ‘em off the stage. And that’s still my goal.”
Israel Nash
Israel Nash
Cosmos-wrangling Americana upstart Israel Nash returns from Texas Hill Country with his Silver Season, a deeply gorgeous and wholly immersive nine-song set that plays less like an album, and more like a cross section of time and space. The man's fourth LP ventures farther down the acid-soaked trail blazed by 2013's Rain Plans, arriving in lush and expansive territory. Here, this Missouri son sounds more assured than ever, supported by his highly capable band and production inspired by psychedelic greats. Israel Nash's Silver Season is best played loudly, and sounds wonderful in headphones.

Like the record before it, this one was made on Nash's 15-acre swath of land in Dripping Springs, Texas, with one key difference. While Rain Plans was recorded inside of the new home he shared with his then-pregnant wife, Silver Season was born in the studio Nash built outside and named Plum Creek Sound, a 1,400 square- foot Quonset erected in March. The band was ready to begin in late May when the floods came, filling the building with water and muck. Nash and the boys pushed on anyhow. Digging trenches, hauling sandbags, clearing mud, and plugging in—that's how they made an album, doing what needed to be done.

The end result isn't so terrestrial, however. Silver Season billows outward with its opening song, "Willow." A swirl of keys, bass, pedal steel, acoustic strum, and languid drums envelop the listener as Nash's cooed poetry recontextualizes the world through his daughter's eyes. A shimmery Morricone-like passage carries us into "Parlour Song," which sounds a little like Neil Young leading Tame Impala. "Sooner or later we'll surrender our guns/But not until we've shot everyone," Nash sings. And while the line would fit into a celebratory tale about Old West outlaws, it's actually a modern lament.

From the warm drift and easy elasticity of "Strangers" (one of two cuts that verge on seven minutes) to the holler-along gospel of "The Rag & Bone Man," Silver Season feels like a living thing. That's a product of the wild five-man sessions that took place in the sweltering Quonset (with beer breaks, and slingshot target practice using the empties). It's also due to the care put into taming all of that good noise, with engineer Ted Young (Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth) returning to the mix. The analog hum grounds the guitar wizardry, while the depth of sound ties the band to the pasture that surrounds.

It makes sense that Nash would come into his own out there. He was raised in the Ozarks amidst hills and farmland. Other things add up too. His pastor father and artist mother were very much children of the '60s. Dad bought him Sgt. Pepper's when he was 10, Mom handed him an electric guitar at 11, and Nash was writing songs by 12. And while he's grown away from the religion he was raised under, Nash's music is nothing if not spiritual. The spirit just comes from a different place—nature, family, song, and the occasional trip into times and spaces we can't normally access. Hidden within the folds of Silver Season, Nash's weather-beaten voice says it best:

"I don't live like the others/I see twice as many colors."
Venue Information:
The Bomb Factory
2713 Canton Street
Dallas, TX, 75226
http://thebombfactory.com