Paolo Nutini - 'Candy'
Hand on heart, I never got the Paolo Nutini thing. There were just too many record companies signing too many easy-on-the-eye singer-songwriters at the time, and after being forced to listen to Jack Johnson, Newton Faulkner and James Morrison in every cafe and surf shop in town, I developed an irrational dislike of any hot, stubbly troubadour with a tatty Takamine guitar and a notepad full of half-whispered musical diary entries. Plus they all seemed to sing in a really odd accent, somewhere between American and Australian, lots of rounded vowels, made strange by attempting to sing the blues quietly round a campfire, I would imagine.
Paolo Nutini, for all that he can pen a decent song about buying shoes, fell firmly into that category. Or so I thought.
(Here's the video. Put a proper shirt on, man, it's a wedding!)
The first thing I realised, on listening to this, is that his voice has changed. Not only is Paolo singing with a far more pronounced Glasgow burr than he ever did before, but he's abandoned that smooth, cool, unruffled and mellow Jack Johnson delivery, in favour of a tremulous, terrified old man warble.
I say this as if it's a strange and foolish thing for him to have done, but the first few times I listened to this I was mesmerised by the change. I couldn't stop wondering how suddenly, even though the music is broadly the same kind of stuff you'd expect - polished, grown-up folky rock with a country edge - even though the song isn't all that far from something on that first album, and even though I still recoil whenever a CD with a photogenic scruffbag minstrel lands on my desk, this song cut through like vinegar in a trifle.
And it really is all in the voice. Instead of sounding like the cocky hot young scamp on the block, he suddenly sounds ancient, broken and vulnerable, which, considering he is essentially begging for affection and forgiveness from a grumpy loved one, is only right and proper.
Extra star awarded for perfect use of the word "nonetheless".
Die Shellsuit, Die! says: "Mr. Nutini needs to get into a few more fights over women in bars and be more Van Morrison than James Morrison."
The Mahogany Blog says: "it's abundantly clear he's done some serious growing up."