Paolo Nutini: One Of The Great Rock Voices Today, But He’s Not A Rock Singer

paolonutiniI first saw Paolo Nutini around 2006 performing on one of the late night talk shows. Here was a 19-year old artist who looked his age, with such a shy stage presence that he looked down at the floor for the whole performance.

But that voice. When he started singing you had to do a double take, because the voice didn’t match up with what you were seeing. The voice was soulful and gritty like he was channeling Otis Redding. It was remarkable. To top it off, his thick Scottish brogue gave the whole thing an oddly exotic feel.

The fact that he was the very last artist signed by the legendary Ahmet Ertegun to Atlantic Records – the man who first signed Ray Charles in 1952 – only added to the intrigue.

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Unfortunately, by the time his second album came out in 2009, Paolo Nutini started to seem like a bit of a novelty act to me. Instead of taking that incredible voice and carving out some new territory, he seemed intent on occupying a safe place as a retro-soul tribute act, along with artists like Mayer Hawthorne and Rafael Saadiq.

His music was filled with all the familiar Stax records tropes with the horns and distinctive bass, and while it was pleasant enough, it really didn’t extend much beyond that of a novelty act.

But his third album Caustic Love, released in 2014, started to show signs of real growth as an artist. Where his songs once veered between happy-happy and broken-heart-sad, his songwriting started to embrace gradations of nuance and ambiguity, like all mature songwriters do.

And he started to sing with a band that had a little more punch and a lot less devotion to the past. Even though he’s still not considered a Rock artist, this guy could very well end up there beside the great Rock vocalists of all time if he keeps going in this direction.

Take a look at these clips and tell me if you don’t see it too.


Photo: BBC

2 comments to “Paolo Nutini: One Of The Great Rock Voices Today, But He’s Not A Rock Singer”
  1. Paolo Nutini, and his backup group, The Vipers, is so talented as a songwriter, vocalist,and live performer! Paolo also is very down-to-earth and very approachable to his adoring fans who are all ages, genders, and nationalities. He is the real deal! Those of you who are not familiar with his work, check him out on YouTube especially his live performances!

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