Half Notes: Paolo Nutini – These Streets (2008)

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by S. Victor Aaron

Nutini, from North Of England Way, got notice from performing his songs in London showcase clubs and ended up signed by Atlantic Records when he was barely 18. Soon afterwards in ’06, he recorded this gem of a debut album. These Streets doesn’t seek to steal away fans of the Jonas Brothers; despite the young adult love themes in some of the songs, it’s sung and played with a maturity that belies Nutini’s tender age. The blue-eyed soul/folk-rock appeals more to the Jack Johnson and Van Morrison crowds. Calling Nutini’s voice a cross between Dave Matthews and Mick Hucknell (Simply Red) or even Johnson in spots would be a fair characterization.

Every tune in this collection was written by Nutini with help of others, and his trusty acoustic guitar. Amongst indelible (but not too sappy) ballads like “Last Request” and “Rewind” are the spot-on pub rocker “Jenny Don’t Be Hasty” and toe-tapping “Alloway Grove.” After all, there’s a lot of talented new singers out there. Paolo Nutini stands above that crowd with snappy, unpretentious tunes and an organic presentation. If you’re a latecomer to the Nutini scene, well, join the club. Much better late than never.

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