What we’re listening to (#16): ‘Sunny Side Up’ by Paolo Nutini

Paolo Nutini’s debut album These Streets honestly didn’t do much to set him apart from his peers – he hadn’t quite landed on a genre, and his lyrics were very casual at times, especially in ‘New Shoes’. He was a simple singer-songwriter who was acting older than he really was. Extremely tight production often took away from the gruffness in his voice that was starting to come through, but it meant that the record was relatively accessible. The album wasn’t a flop by any means, managing to sell a few million over time, but it wasn’t enough to save him from the James Blunt and James Morrison comparisons.

Sunny Side Up isn’t a regular sophomore album, it sounds like an album made by someone who’s been on the circuit for a while and knows his niche well.  His voice is the real kicker here, it progressed from barely post-teenager to fifty-something crooner in three years.

“10/10” opens up the album with reggae, and arguably it’s not the most exciting foray into the genre, but enjoyable nonetheless – the song perfectly introduces us to Paolo’s more growling-prevalent stylings. “Coming Up Easy”, welcoming listeners back to Nutini’s regular style, a great whirling organ-backed piece that breaks upbeat verses and choruses with a short sucker-punching bridge – he also does the same towards the end of the track, with a great crescendo over the words:

“It was in love I was created and in love is how I hope I die”

He does a similar thing at the end of “No Other Way”, albeit in a much more soulful manner – the brass creeps in, building towards the chorus of the Scottish-Italian singing about the ups and downs of relationships. A short offbeat reggae styled bridge breaks up the 2nd verse and the chorus, and after this extended chorus, Nutini lets it rip, all out screams of the words “oh baby” providing a fantastic goosebump-factor.

“Pencil Full of Lead” was one of the songs of the summer, receiving extended radio-play for a few months, and acts a fantastic pick-me-up along with “High Hopes” on an album which is otherwise quite sombre.

The album’s first single “Candy” is also worth a listen, and once again he employs a crescendo towards the end, which was often cut-off when played on radio – without it, it has to be said that it might just be a regular rock-soul ballad. It does showcase Nutini’s talent to write songs about relationships and what not without sounding to cliche or cutesy, and he does it very intimately on the track:

Nutini’s follow up to this album wasn’t too shabby either –

This article was written by Mo Hafeez

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