St. Paul & The Broken Bones: Young Sick Camellia Album Review

Story posted September 12, 2018 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Lilly Adams

The eight-piece blue-eyed soul band that formed just over six years ago called, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, have had an almost all-around positive, successful, and significant career since their self-released debut in 2013. They have been compared to fellow soul music legends like Otis Redding and James Brown throughout their entirety, living up to the expectations with pride. On September 7, 2018, the band released their highly anticipated new album, Young Sick Camellia, clearly stepping into more modern territory compared to their last two albums, but all the while staying true to themselves and not converting to “please the listeners”, like some eccentric artists seem to do with the yearn to gain more attention. With the lyrics, production, beat, strings, vocals, etc., the band need not fear about the attention they’re sure to gain.

The artists, specifically the band’s brilliantly powerful lead singer, Paul Janeway, seem to be torn between their past and what they’re feeling now, stuck between wanting to stay in the sleepy Alabama soul sound that they grew up around and moving to be with a more modern crowd. The band even titled their album after the Alabama state flower, and describing it as both young, like there’s more to explore in it’s innocence, but sick, almost like it’s fed up with it’s lack of growth. Janeway seems to be the most conflicted with this internal competition the band seems to be facing. He incorporates voice conversations with his grandfather and father throughout the album, starting off the album with a haunting piano track, drums with no rhythm, flute whistles, and his grandfather talking about Alabama. Suddenly, the album dives into St. Paul’s familiar upbeat jazz instrumentals with “Convex”, with Janeway displaying dissatisfying emotions with the religion Alabama strongly supports, and again in the following song, “GotItBad”. Lyrics like “Gun-shaped bible and a loaded tongue/Jesus ain't the problem but he started one/He don't understand/Black veil preacher at the city mall/Hiding in the bushes 'cause he likes 'em young”, raise the question Janeway must be puzzling over; Should we support things that are so flawed just because we were raised with it?

The album is a unique paradox, as it’s almost like a coming of age album for the members, while all of them over the age of 30. There is a steady theme of questioning your family dynamics, what you were raised around, what you were taught to believe, etc., all of which craft the song around a specific answer and feeling that accompanies it, whether it be guilt or relief, rather than wallow in the question itself. The album never asks, it tells, and while it seems troubled and puzzled over what exactly it’s telling, the beauty in the music allows it to naturally flow together with grace and maturity. St. Paul and the Broken Bones created an album consisting of all of the troubles one may face while aging, while allowing their music to age with them.

Rating: 8/10

Lilly Adams is a sophomore majoring in Film/Video. To contact her, email lillyadams11@gmail.com.