Paolo Nutini, Sunny Side Up (Atlantic, 2009)

A native of the city of Paisley, Scotland (near Glasgow), Paolo Nutini was still a teenager when he released his first album These Streets in 2006. I remember commenting at the time that Nutini had some promise as a blue-eyed soul singer, and he happily makes good on the promise with his second album Sunny Side Up.

Nutini is more eclectic on Sunny Side Up than he was on its predecessor, beginning with the fun, ska-influnced opening song "10/10." His next song, "Coming Up Easy," evokes old-school soul, with a horn section reminiscent of the many soul hits produced by Stax Records in Memphis. He spends the rest of the album bouncing around between folk, country, soul, and even dixieland, and has the voice to pull all of it off. As soul singers with brogues go, he blows away Andrew Strong from The Commitments, and I don't know of too many living singers elsewhere who can evoke Otis Redding as well as Nutini does. Besides the first two songs, other highlights include the minor-key ballad "Candy," the joyously bouncy "Pencil Full of Lead," the rockabilly "Simple Things," and the dark folk/gospel song "Worried Man."

Sunny Side Up is a solid effort from a rapidly maturing young performer with a great voice and no small amount of creative talent. Paolo Nutini is unquestionably a performer to watch (and listen to) in the years to come.

Overall grade: A-

reviewed by Scott

"Candy," the first single off Sunny Side Up.

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