I was planning on reviewing this album when it was released in the U.K a few months back but alas, it completely flew under my radar so now I have a chance to review it for the U.S release. Paolo Nutini’s last two albums showcased the fact that the Scottish singer-songwriter had definite talent but he never used it to his fullest potential. His first two albums spawned singles such as ‘New Shoes’ and ‘Pencil Full Of lead’, and while they weren’t bad songs you got the overwhelming feeling that they were designed for middle aged mothers. Paolo Nutini all but disappeared for five years after that and then this year came back a more matured and better musician to put out his recent album ‘Caustic Love’.
‘Caustic love’ is by far a much better album than the predecessors. Even though his distinguishable voice is still in tact, he has dived far more into his soul and funk roots than ever before. The lead single ‘Scream (Funk Up My Life)’ represents one half of how this record goes, he channels his inner soul and funk into brilliant pop songs. The more upbeat pop songs have the same ingredients as the rest of the album such as the funky guitars, the big bass lines, the brilliant horn sections; but he does it on a sexually driven rampage. The Jannelle Monae ‘Fashion’ is another brilliant testament to that with him singing the line ‘There’s more to life than sex appeal, but sometimes it takes an angel to remember’. Nutini has never done songs that are so devoted to his soul sound and feel so genuine as these.
The other half of the album is lead by Nutini diving into himself, self reflecting and his concern for the people. He often uses samples of other works during these songs which sound absolutely brilliant they’re not too overwhelming. This side of the album is spearheaded by the song ‘Iron Sky’ which is by far the best song that Nutini has ever created in his career. It has an absolutely explosive chorus that showcases everything great about his voice, it’s the most passionate he’s ever sounded. The emotion in his voice swells underneath the instrumentation of bombastic horns and the bass line that seems to control the song. It also features his best use of a sample in the song’s bridge with his use of one of my favourite ever film moments with the speech from Chaplin’s ‘The Great Dictator’. A risky move to use such a beloved moment from a film, but it pays off as he gives it a whole new meaning as it plays over the top of these reverb drenched guitars. A beautiful song.
By channeling in his inner Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and Prince, Nutini has found himself sounding better and more mature than he ever has before. He has made a record that proves all of his previous critics wrong (including myself).