a debut from a rookie who has the potential to write classics yet needs direction...
Lee Glynn

11:29 13th July 2006

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19 year old singing phenomenon Paolo Nutini has the potential to grab the music industry by the throat and become one of the most unique sounding artists to come out of the UK in years, but as his debut ‘These Streets’ tells it, the boy is tiptoeing around the line of “perfect mothers day present album” ever so dangerously. Having grown up around musicians all his life and harbouring a love for soul artists and 50’s rock’n’roll bands since an early age, it is quite plain to see that Nutini is not influenced by the usual fashionable crowd. ‘These Streets’ is a refreshing album that could be a lost project of the great Van Morrison, as his stripped down eccentric voice encapsulates youth at it’s most naïve yet still speaks years ahead of it’s age.

Having gained his stripes acting as a roadie for a friend’s band and playing open mic nights here and there, Nutini’s debut conjures up images of bed-sit song writing, of a kid that is far away from home and of a worldly man that is trapped inside a teenager’s body, hence the reason his debut is a confused piece of work that has some fine and some poor moments as his direction of song writing is pulled many ways. ‘Jenny Don’t Be Hasty’ tells a tale of a relationship with an older woman, whom is leading him on and constantly shutting him down only to bring his hopes up ever so slightly, a familiar tale told with honesty and a poignancy that is disarming, and best of all a bit of a rocker to boot. Current single ‘Last Request’ is the instigator of change as this down tempo reminiscent anecdote of love lost is blatantly were his skill lies, as beautiful vocals gently caressed by subtle explosions from a guitar will surely be this year’s new “let’s lose our virginity” song. Soppy yes, but beautiful nonetheless.

‘Rewind’ is where it all seems to go wrong as Nutini’s direction becomes somewhat lost in the excitement of recording an album. It speaks of the demise of a relationship and the usual bar hopping etc. all surrounded by his swirling Jazzy vocals, but it gives in to an annoying chorus that grates on the ear, and is a turn for the worst, taking all the buzz out of the previous two songs. Title track ‘These Streets’ is a small redeeming quality as a mouth organ and gentle guitar take it back to promising territory and away from the R’n’B offender that is ‘Million Faces’. With other tracks like ‘White Lies’ sounding like it came off a Boys To Men album, it’s clear Nutini is trying to cover all of his influences but at the cost of coherency, as the album dips into Mum-music territory - flat and uninspiring.

His record becomes a scrapbook very quickly, as tracks like ‘Autumn’ and ‘New Shoes’, although good, could be a completely different artist as they just don’t fit here. Sure they are decent tunes, but they are overshadowed due to the change of direction that will alienate some listeners. Even more confusing is the complete change of pace and album closer ‘Alloway Grove’ that is a swing/blues acoustic boot scoot, a short-lived redeeming quality on an album that lacks commitment and consistence.

Nutini’s voice is one to be inspired by and in awe of as his vocals could only rival Van Morrison or even Scott Walker on the unique scale, yet his album lacks the articulation that he has tried to achieve in making it eclectic. Perhaps three different albums, one soul, one jazz and one acoustica could have done the boy justice. Maybe? But all we have is ‘These Streets’ a debut from a rookie who has the potential to write classics yet needs direction.

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