Paolo Nutini - 'Coming Up Easy'
Of all the musical surprises which have happened in 2009, the en-good-ification of Paolo Nutini is the one that no-one could have predicted. Not even his most ardent fans. In making his comeback album 'Sunny Side Up' sound like a brilliant collection of some of the best musical ideas of the last 500 years - from folky flutes to Jungle Book jazz to jumpy ska - all delivered in a witchy Scots crone voice, he's jumped over all the other moany old singer-songwriters queueing up to let the world hear their timid thoughts in their weedy squeaks, and nabbed a well-deserved No.1 album into the bargain.
What's more, people are talking about this record, and recommending it, and passing it along, in a way that all record companies DREAM of. Dad's birthday present has never been so easy, and for once, the same goes for the entire family, from elder/younger siblings to groovy uncles, grans and grandads to pre-nage jitterkids. So long as you can get past the old lady voice, great treasures await you.
This, while a nice song, is not one of the most precious treasures. Which makes it an odd choice for a single.
(Here's the video. Bad bunny! In your hutch!)
The trouble is, the one thing Paolo should have maybe stopped himself from doing is the painstaking recreation of that big Jools Holland-approved '60s soul sound. Y'know, like in The Commitments. He's got the voice for it, he clearly knows the turf well enough to pen a decent ditty in that style, but compared to the giddy fun of 'Pencil Full Of Lead', or the spiralling South American folk-gospel of 'High Hopes', 'Coming Up Easy' just sounds too reverential to the past. Too obvious.
Everything from the purring Hammond organ to the busy bassline, from the staccato guitars to the chirruping brass, says "this is the proper way to do it", as if music is some kind of jigsaw puzzle. When actually, the reason the rest of the album flies like it does is that some of the edge pieces - edge pieces from entirely different puzzles, I might add - are in the middle, in a beautifully-arranged jumble.
Even the fadeout, where Paolo wails "it was in love I was created and in love is how I hope I die" over and over, is held back slightly by the idea that he's attempting to keep a musical seat warm while the person who owns it - Otis Redding, perhaps - has nipped to the loo. And while we are all used to hearing this kind of hero worship on modern records (Mr Ronson! So nice to see you), it's not the way you should go about advertising that you've recorded a great album which - mostly - does not do this.