Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Call Me” by St. Paul & The Broken Bones from the 2014 album Half The City on Single Lock Records.
It takes some nerve to give your stage name a divine descriptor, but after listening to “St.” Paul Janeway and his five bandmates in The Broken Bones, it’s clear that they were put on this Earth by God himself to do one thing: stomp, shout, and sweat their way through the grooves of their vintage Muscle Shoals-era soul. The Chelsea, Alabama-born singer was groomed to be a pastor in his youth, but Janeway took a different path, pursuing music in Birmingham and eventually joining up in a soul combo with guitarist Browan Lollar, bassist Jesse Phillips, trumpeter Allen Branstetter, and trombonist/tubaist Ben Griner, and drummer Andrew Lee, who the group literally called on a whim while traveling to the studio. When all six musicians gathered in the studio with Alabama Shakes’ Ben Tanner behind the boards, they cut their debut album Half The City live to analog tape, just like their musical heroes did. Although you can’t see Janeway and his band bouncing back and forth on “Call Me”, you can hear, and furthermore, feel it. The rhythm section is tight, the horns are sharp, and Lollar’s guitar is loose and crisp, but it’s Janeway who undeniably steals the show. When he drags out the last word in the chorus of “I need you to call me... let me hear you again!” or interjects during one of the song’s turn-on-a-dime interludes, he’s clearly on fire, filled with the same spirit that was in Sam Cooke, James Brown, and Otis Redding. Janeway throws himself into the song like the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman did into a role, laying every drop of emotion he can onto the tape as his bandmates follow his every move with just as much vigor, making “Call Me” a thrilling listen that begs to be heard live to fully experience its power.
St. Paul & The Broken Bones are currently participating in the madness that is SXSW, but they’ll be leaving Austin after it’s over and stop in Seattle on April 19th at the Tractor Tavern. On top of that, they’ll play live on KEXP the same day at 3:00 p.m. Get tickets and more information on that 21+ show here, keep up with the band on their website and Facebook, and below, watch the band play “Call Me” live last year.