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The new album from St. Paul and the Broken Bones takes inspiration from alienation


St. Paul and the Broken Bones, the eight-piece soul band from Birmingham, Ala., has just released its fourth album. This one is called "The Alien Coast." Frontman Paul Janeway says the title speaks to the alienation he felt growing up in a strict religious household where he was shielded from ideas outside of church. He says much of his adult life was spent trying to catch up. It all served as inspiration for music on the album.


ST PAUL AND THE BROKEN BONES: (Singing) Lost in pink and purple skies.

PAUL JANEWAY: I went back to community college, and I took an art history class. And that sparked a lot within me, you know, and so I just started to devour. And I was reading a book about the history of the Gulf of Mexico. And when the Spanish were coming up that way, they couldn't figure out if it was an ocean or what, what was going on. And they referred to it as the alien coast because they couldn't - you know, it was just such a mystery to them. And part of me just kind of felt like, you know, it's being home but feeling alien, you know, that idea of being a little odd and being different.


ST PAUL AND THE BROKEN BONES: (Singing) Tell the world, tell the world that I shot you.

JANEWAY: Like, I still have never drank alcohol before, which is strange for some people, but it was definitely - at first, it was a religious thing. Now it's just like, I just haven't done it. So I mean - and it cost me a lot less money, you know? At the same time, yeah, I think you feel like a misfit in those things because you did grow up fairly sheltered.


JANEWAY: "Minotaur" is a good one. It's another one of those characters that's kind of popping up in the fever dream, of, you know, of a Minotaur.


ST PAUL AND THE BROKEN BONES: (Singing) Innocence is lost by violent decay, stuck inside the maze of all the mundane.

JANEWAY: What was interesting to me is, like, the idea of that loneliness that it must feel to be stuck in a maze and just waiting and the fear that that might be there. And also, the Minotaur is kind of cool, so I'm about that as well. (Laughter).


ST PAUL AND THE BROKEN BONES: (Singing) There was a time when I never lost my mind, but it ain't now.

JANEWAY: "Ghost In Smoke" - the song is really about kind of living everything through a haze and not really sinking your teeth into anything. Specifically, there's an interstate that runs into our hometown, Birmingham, and when it rains or gets, you know, it gets foggy, like, there's a lot of, like, refracting light, and there's kind of muddy light and just kind of using that imagery as a way to kind of - and a ghost in smoke, which just seems incredibly hazy, almost hard to see. It's really just trying to use imagery that's kind of - you know, obviously living your life that way.


ST PAUL AND THE BROKEN BONES: (Singing) Ghost in smoke, one lost soul. Time, it slows. I can feel you in my heart, baby.

MARTIN: Paul Janeway from St. Paul and the Broken Bones - the new album is called "The Alien Coast." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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