Saturday, February 12, 2011
Song of the week: Paolo Nutini's "Coming Up Easy"
I bought Scottish singer/songwriter Paolo Nutini's first album, These Streets, back in 2006, on the strength of its singles "New Shoes" and "Last Request" and discovered the eventual single "Jenny Don't Be Hasty" as a highlight afterward. Sadly, nothing much else on the album stuck out to me. There was nothing unpleasant, but nothing exceptional either. I was at a CVS Pharmacy a month or two ago when I heard this great soul song on the radio. I wrote down a few of the lyrics in my phone and made sure to look up what the song was when I got home. I found out it was Paolo Nutini's single "Coming Up Easy", off of his new album, Sunny Side Up. I was a bit hesitant to buy the album, afraid I'd only get 3 good singles and some filler again, but I went ahead and took the plunge. Well, the album is a wonder, miles beyond what was on These Streets. Full of passion and nuance and a certain amount of unassuming ambition. At just 24-years-old, Nutini has made something of a masterwork. At the very least he's made the statement that he's a true blue artist and someone worth listening to, not just a guy who can write a couple of goods songs on an album, throw some listenable pap in there and call it good. But "Coming Up Easy" is still the song that lights me up the most.
It starts off in a relaxed sorta groove, B-3 in the background and a few horns giving a sense of soul. Nutini lets his accent shine through a bit, which is nice. Too many singers try to lose their accent, losing a bit of distinctiveness in the process I think, but that's another topic for another day. Nutini sings of a guy wavering on breaking up with his girl. His friends tell him he should, she tells him to remember the good times they've had, watching the sun coming up or laying out in the rain. But when the break comes is where my interest truly piques. The line that struck me while I was standing there in the pharmacy was "It was in love I was created, and in love is how I hope I'll die." The drums start building, the horns start blaring, and Nutini repeatedly and jubilantly belts out the line like he's Otis Redding. That last 90 seconds or so of the song are what drew me in, it's what keeps me coming back, and really it's the reason I picked this song as my song of the week. It's a great bit of a young artist nodding to one of his influences and yet making it his own. It sounds easy, but it can actually be very difficult to show your influences without simply stealing from them, but Paolo if flawless in his execution, I think.
I want to reiterate how tremendous his new album is overall though. And "Coming Up Easy" is not the only Otis Redding tribute on Sunny Side Up, the song "No Other Way" is an even more overt attempt at a Stax Records sound (and it's a great attempt). But Nutini covers a lot of ground, does it well, and gets me excited for his next album. I really recommend picking it up if you get a chance.