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Paolo Nutini Sunny Side Up Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

A classic case of the protégé rebelling against the laid-out path.

Sophie Bruce 2009

After his million selling 2006 debut, Paisley boy Paolo Nutini is back with the follow up – and it’s a classic case of the protégé rebelling against the path laid out for him. Where These Streets was slick, polished and poppy, Sunny Side Up is the exact opposite.

It’s difficult to know what to make this confused, folky melee – a lot of which sounds not unlike the sort of souvenir your Dad might bring back from a week in the Outer Hebrides. If you can get past his heavily accented lyrics – and sometimes they’re almost unintelligible – then the music is equally rambling.

This is a self-penned, self-produced flight of indulgent fancy, more old fashioned than old school. It’s all the more surprising given that he had help from Kings Of Leon supremo Ethan Johns – but then maybe these days Paolo’s harder to mould. Let’s face it; he has now played Live Earth, supported Led Zepplin and duetted with Mick Jagger. How do you argue with that?

Nutini’s aim was an organic, timeless sound – the result is described by even his own management as ‘almost unfashionably eclectic’. And maybe there lies the problem – this album sounds 40 years older than it should do coming from a guy still in his early 20s.

If he’s aiming to crack the US he’s certainly heading in the right musical direction, with first single Candy sounding spookily like a Scottish Bruce Springsteen. Laidback soulful ballad Coming Up Easy is about his struggles with marijuana, but just sounds like it was written on the stuff.

The confusion continues with ska-driven 10/10, Pencil of Lead where he sounds like a sped-up Louis Armstrong and the messy High Hopes – melody and lyrics are great, but overshadowed by an ill-thought-out penny whistle which belongs on the soundtrack to The Lion King.

There are some gems - like Worried Man, a beautifully dark ditty about a man ‘who feels like he’s getting old before his time’. Irony alert! Paolo, slow down – it doesn’t look like you’ll be forced to return to the family fish and chip business any time soon, but that doesn’t mean you have to age six decades between albums.

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