Songs We Love: St. Paul & The Broken Bones, 'Flow With It (You Got Me Feeling Like)'
St. Paul & The Broken Bones roared onto the soul-revival scene in 2014 on the strength of frontman Paul Janeway, whose earth-shaking vocals are matched only by his irrepressible energy as a performer. After a whirlwind couple years since the band's debut, Half The City — a time that included a few dates as The Rolling Stones' opening act — the Birmingham, Ala., outfit has shored up its sound and turned to weighty lyrical themes for its second full-length record, Sea Of Noise.
"Flow With It (You Got Me Feeling Like)" is the second single from Sea Of Noise, and it's a fine example of the band's maturation. Having grown to an eight-piece, the group fuels its fire with an expanded horn section and percussion that evokes the Motown sound. (Elsewhere on Sea Of Noise, its members call on the string charts of veteran Memphis arranger Lester Snell — not to mention the skyscraping voices of the Tennessee Mass Choir, recorded in Studio A at what was once Stax Records.)
More elaborate orchestration aside, the gritty burr of the Southern soul that informs St. Paul & The Broken Bones' music is undeniable. In "Flow With It," that's most evident in the heavily grooving breakdown after the second chorus. Janeway lets the band bubble up and simmer over as he riffs on the curiously ambiguous line, "I wanna feel." It's hard not to feel something — release, maybe, or a cleansing of sorts — when everything comes to a heart-stopping pause, then whooshes back in at a rapid boil a beat later.
On one level, "Flow With It" seems to deal with a bedroom argument and the strain felt within an intimate relationship that's fraying at the seams. But considered in light of contentious times, politically and socially, the song takes on another layer of meaning. "We ain't gotta fight," Janeway pleads, sounding like he could be addressing a partner or a society in need of the salve that soul music offers. "Let's just flow with it."
Sea Of Noise is out Sept. 9 via RECORDS.
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