It’s taken a few weeks of deep concentration to figure out whether to write this or not. It’s taken a few years to figure out whether Paolo Nutini is a guilty pleasure of mine, or whether I should really hold my head high as a fan of his for a while now. It’s also taken no more than a couple of listens to his latest, and third studio album ‘Caustic Love’ to answer all my previous doubts, and fully declare him a bonafide, credible musician, that should be celebrated as a massive name and talent in the UK. As I mentioned, I’ve been a big fan for years, probably since his second album came out, and songs like ‘Coming Up Easy’ and ‘Candy’, made overplayed and samey efforts from his debut such as ‘Last Request’ and ‘New Shoes’, seem like a different artists work.
It was thought at the time, that any record company restraints and expectations had been met and dropped, and by the time his second album hit and he was a bit more free to do his thing, which culminated in his songs being a little sexier, grittier and relatable. Of course, ‘Pencil Full Of Lead’ was a slightly more overplayed, poptastic, radio friendly number, but a great song all the same, that utilised his backing bands full potential and still held some substance, even if it was unavoidable from then until pretty much now.
But, ‘Caustic Love’ has captured a whole new sound and brought a lot more to the table, in a different way to previously. With a soulful sound, all the way through, and experimenting with Jazz, Funk, Soul and even contemporary pop that keeps his airplay time to a degree not unlike his other efforts. The album features samples, short skits and even an appearance from Janelle Monae on ‘Fashion’. All elements we haven’t seen him use before, and therefore rendering the third album, as different to the first two as ‘Sunny side up’ was to ‘These streets’.
So aside from the differences, what else is worth mentioning? Oh yeah, the songs (obvs). Well the first single released was the incredibly catchy, early summer anthem ‘Scream (Funk my life up)’ which has seen much deserving radio play on all stations due to its broad nature. It’s a brilliant pop song, with a funk edge and those provocative, sex based lyrics Paolo has been known for in the past. This will be one to look out for live, which I’ll be doing in Benicassim this summer. Follow up single as of this week is the much more sultry ‘Let Me Down Easy’. The female vocals in the chorus are haunting and carry a retro feel about them. This one almost sets the tone for the rest of the album and leaves ‘Scream’ standing alone, as Paolo consistently sounds like Otis Redding, with a similar gritty, soul vocal to the legend on tracks like ‘One day’, ‘Iron sky’ and the latter half of ‘Better Man’ . The aforementioned ‘Iron sky’ is a stand out track as said by many, and was actually a Youtube discovery before the album’s release. With limitless power throughout, and an incredible depth to the lyrics as well as an attention grabbing sampled dialogue in the middle that really sets it off, and helps kick the back end of the song into another gear, it stands out as the masterpiece from the album. Another favourite for a very different reason is track five, ‘Numpty’. It’s a summery, catchy, rolling beat with easy to learn lyrics, and one that forces a smile onto your face, as well as being a great driving song.
Basically the album has many positives and very minimal negatives. Some have said that ‘Fashion’, the more RnB sounding track with a rap solo from Janelle Monae is a low point but for me I like it for its intention if being different and delivering something that we’ve never seen Nutini do before. I even love how it’s so brazenly thrown in to the mix, surrounded with a collection of songs that sound absolutely nothing like that one. The other thing I love about the album is that it’s Paolo Nutini, because he’s gorgeous and features very high in my list of men I’d like to sleep with. For more information on that, here’s my top five:
1.Orlando weeks (Maccabees)
2. Paolo Nutini
3. Ian Somerhalder (Vampire diaries)
4.Ville Valo (HIM)
5. Johnny Depp
Have a good weekend everyone…
Words by Stuart Green (@mojo20_music)