Paolo Nutini is among the best at singing love songs

Paolo Nutini is among the best at singing love songs

July 1st two years ago Paul Nutini eight years later “Caustic love” (read the review here) released his fourth album “Last night in the bittersweet”. This is our review of the latest album by the Scottish musician with Italian origins.

Sixteen songs are way too many for one album, even if we’re not talking about yet another monster album from the hip hop phenomenon, but the new work of one of the best, most talented and influential singer-songwriters of his generation.

But the fast lasted so long – eight years, as many as have passed since the release of the previous “Caustic love”, before the silence – that in the end you forgive this too, to Paolo Nutini. In 2016, at 29 years old at the height of his success – 8 million copies sold worldwide with his first albums, from “These streets” to “Caustic love” itself, passing through “Sunny side up”, the one with the hit “Candy” – he decided to take an indefinite break from music, making every trace of him disappear (except for being caught in 2019 in a Scottish pub, where he was performing like any piano bar pianist). Now at 35, the voice of “Candy”, who with her success has effectively paved the way for the protagonists of the singer-songwriter scene across the Channel, from Ed Sheeran on down, returns with an album – this “Last night in the bittersweet” – which collects the experiences of these years away from the stages and the spotlight and tells them with a disarming freedom of expression.

The album, anticipated in recent months by the singles “Lose it”, “Through the echoes”, “Shine a light”, “Petrified in love” and “Acid eyes”, which have progressively brought the singer-songwriter closer to the public (and vice versa), it’s an hour-long epic in which Paolo Nutini takes off the role of the reassuring singer-songwriter next door to finally sing about his dark sides, ranging from classic rock to post-punk, passing through krautrock.

In some songs, starting with “Radio”, the singer-songwriter – who, as his surname suggests, has Italian origins – does not fail to let a certain disgust for fashions and market trends filter through: “And there’s nothin’ on the radio / They’re all talkin’ like they’re fallin’ in love”, he sings. He seeks something else: locked in a dark, messy room, full of objects scattered here and there, just like on the cover of “Last night in the bittersweet”, Nutini recounts his suffering and frustrations.

Take “Lose it”, for example, where his tone becomes dark and deep, à la Tom Waits, almost as if he wanted to recreate the hell of the mind: “I could not seem to find / A way out of my worried mind”, “I still can’t find, a way out of my worried mind”. Shortly after, in the carefree and surf rock atmospheres of “Petrified in love” he will almost seem like another person. The album is played by God: there are, among others, Gavin Fitzjohn on acoustic guitar (he has been at Nutini’s side since the beginning and here he also took care of the production, together with the singer-songwriter himself and his right-hand man of all time Dani Castelar), John Blease and Gerard Ballestrer on percussion, Michael McDaid on electric guitar, Tom Herbert on bass, as well as Nutini himself, who divides his time between guitars and keyboard instruments. If the names don’t mean anything to you, just know that these are all people who have played with Robert Plant, Manic Street Preachers, Jamie Cullum, Goldfrapp, Polar Bear.

From “Afterneath” to “Writer”, passing through “Everywhere” and “Abigail” (in which Paolo Nutini plays at being Elvis, accompanied by an acoustic guitar), the album is all up and down, like a roller coaster ride, between angrier moments and more intimate ones, with a musical variety that certainly makes it the most complete and mature of the Scottish singer-songwriter so far. “Acid eyes” is the song that alone is worth the entire price of the ticket: “You did the damage when you walked in the room / you started whistling my favourite tune / you did the damage, yeah, stunned from the start / It’s like you swallowed my heart”. One thing hasn’t changed, compared to the past: when he sings love songs, Paolo Nutini confirms himself as the best of all.