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Paolo Nutini


Following in the well-trodden footsteps of contemporary pop/rock legend GERRY RAFFERTY, fellow Paisley-born soft-shoe singer-songwriter PAOLO NUTINI has class and panache oozing out of every orifice of his sleek and slender body – ask any woman on the planet. A babe magnet with a husk recalling old-school R&B idols, OTIS REDDING, WILSON PICKETT and/or VAN MORRISON (to name only a few), proud Scotsman Paolo has amassed several hook-line hits and multi-platinum sales for his, mostly, well-received albums.
Born Paolo Giovanni Nutini, 9 January 1987, the lad was raised on R&B, jazz, soul and a wide range of rock, folk and pop; his Scots-born dad, Alfredo (a fish and chip shop proprietor), was of Italian stock; his mother, Linda, pure Scots-bred. Paolo’s introduction to performing music stemmed from lessons given to him by his school teacher at St. Andrews Academy, who also happened to be his paternal grandfather, Giovanni “Jackie” Nutini.
Having worked as a roadie and T-shirt merchandiser for Glasgow-based indie act, SPEEDWAY, Paolo started cutting music with the band’s drummer, Jim Duguid. NUTINI’s first big break into show business was for the 102.5 Clyde 1 radio show. Legend has it that when fellow Paisley “buddie” and Fame Academy 2002 winner, DAVID SNEDDON, was late for his allocated time-slot, in stepped impromptu pop quiz winner Paolo to sing a couple of songs. In the audience was an impressed talent spotter, Brendan Moon, who duly offered to manage the young man under the help and guidance of business partner Mike Bawden.
At 17, Paolo relocated to London, where he gleaned loads of experience on a regular spot at The Bedford pub in Balham. His trait was to close his eyes when singing. From acoustic live turns on Radio London, the Hard Rock Café; plus well-received support gigs to AMY WINEHOUSE, KT TUNSTALL and The ROLLING STONES, 2005 was now the stage for Paolo to step up to the mark. Atlantic Records won the bidding war after being wholly enthused by the young man’s demo. In May 2006, the label pushed out a freebie download of `These Streets’; possibly in order to hook-in radio stations and prospective venues. A few months down the line, `Last Request’ (one of many penned with Jim Duguid), rocketed up the charts to No.5. There was no turning back now.
In no time at all (taking no chances whatsoever with the ever-fluctuating pop biz), the blue-eyed soul singer’s debut album, THESE STREETS (2006) {*7}, was churning up interest from a raft of disparate but hasty reviews that veered toward jealousy. It was no coincidence that an introspective Paolo had split from his on/off long-time girlfriend, Teri Brogan. Grabbing a Top 3 spot, whilst subsequently securing high-end chart positions for spawns, `Jenny Don’t Be Hasty’ (concerning a spurned relationship with an older woman), `Rewind’ and `New Shoes’, the album even found favour across in the States, where it belatedly cracked the Top 50.
The grits ’n’ soul singer returned for round two in May 2009, when both `Candy’ and its parent Ethan Johns-produced No.1 album, SUNNY SIDE UP {*8}, tore up the charts. Now 22 years old, NUTINI held all the aces on a handful of genre-busting singles/tracks. From the reggae-addled `10/10’ (featuring ex-SPECIALS sax man RICO, and Questlove of The ROOTS) and the acoustic folk of `Worried Man’, `Growing Up Beside You’ and `Tricks Of The Trade’, to the Memphis-styled `Coming Up Easy’ and the LOUIS PRIMA-styled big-band big hitter, `Pencil Full Of Lead’, Paolo and his merry band had come up trumps.
Bypassing a stop-gap/low-key, LIVE AT THE EDEN PROJECT (2011) {*6} – recorded in Cornwall on 13th July 2010 – NUTINI began sessions for a third studio album thereafter. In the meantime, invitations to perform at Glastonbury, Latitude and Montreux festivals were somewhat overshadowed by a prestigious slot at the Hyde Park concert that was part of the 2012 Olympic Games.
Whether the dreaded writer’s block syndrome was a factor, or his self-confessed daily routine of smoking pot, was the reason behind the long delay, that elusive third set was finally dispatched in March 2014. Bolstered by two simultaneously-released download hits, `Scream (Funk My Life Up)’ and `Better Man’, the aptly-titled CAUSTIC LOVE {*8} embodied the retro-soul spirit (and canny samples) of the past with a sense of modern-day foreboding. A smorgasbord of soul that recalled MARVIN GAYE or SAM COOKE in their heyday, further highlights from the chart-topping set were minor hits, `Let Me Down Easy’ (Paolo duetting with a sample of BETTYE LaVETTE) and `Iron Sky’ (including a monologue from Charlie Chaplin’s “The Dictator” movie). NUTINI’s Scots vernacular/brogue was apparent on the TOUSSAINT/DORSEY-inspired `Numpty’ (think “Working In A Coalmine”), whilst the star of the set had to be `Fashion’, a groovy collaboration with Kansas City retro-R&B artist, JANELLE MONAE.
Since Paolo’s autobiography (“Coming Up Easy”) was published the following February, the Honorary Doctorate at Paisley’s University of the West of Scotland, has been conspicuous by his absence (at least in the studio). In 2016, he also split from his latest flame, English actress/model Amber Anderson.
© MC Strong/MCS Nov2018

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