ALBUM: St Paul & The Broken Bones ‘Young Sick Camellia’

With glowing press coverage having so far stretched to Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Vanity Fair and the Wall Street Journal, it would behove the cannier listener to accept that the corporate mainstream press might just love St Paul & The Broken Bones; which is not a good sign.

Inoffensiveness, you could argue, might yet become the key component of all future musical product to issue from majors as they ‘struggle’ to inflate profits (and the bonuses of their CEOs); the idea being, just perhaps, not to ruffle consumer feathers by furthering sounds that would dare to jar, unsettle and upset or, perish the thought, pose difficult questions of a social bent. ‘Keep ‘em passive, keep ‘em buying’ might be the mantra. Ergo, keep it predictable and make sure the mainstream press eats it all up.

But it should be cause for concern that a radio-friendly record like Young Sick Camellia is issued, not by a major, but by an independent. Playing safe with some Cee Lo Green-esque ear candy might work as a business model, but why play safe if you’re an independent? Well, that’s the cod-invective out the way, yet the serious point is that St Paul & The Broken Bones is an R&B live act of considerable power, but a power not evinced on their new album; the production arrives heavy-handed and failing to call to mind the classic influences from which this band has clearly drawn its energy.

So, dear St Paul, have a Damascene moment and give us all a live album that will showcase your musical chops, because the soft furnishings of this record don’t quite cut the mustard. And with this in mind, are we the public no more than sitting ducks for the new persuasion industries, no longer able to discern good from bad?

That said, this band is great live, so don your glad rags, comb your hair and get down to a venue near you as soon as is possible (they’re playing five UK gigs this month) to find out just how good this octet is… assuming there’s a venue still open where you are.

Jason Holmes