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New Artist Alert: Paolo Nutini
With a thick Scottish accent, charming Italian looks and unadulterated talent, it’s no wonder that Paolo Nutini has emerged as a rising star. Don’t be fooled by his mature voice ~ while his music makes it believable that he’s in his 40s, Paolo is, in fact, a 19-year-old who seems to be wise beyond his years.

A look at the lyrics he’s penned shows that Paolo has lived and loved and is not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve. His emotional tunes come from his own experiences and are making girls everywhere swoon, but this kind of success would have been difficult to imagine a few years ago when he was just another Scottish lad. “I've never had anything as formal as vocal lessons,” says Paolo, “but I did sing in the school choir for a while. That was tough. As you can imagine, not a whole lot of guys take to singing in a place like Paisley, and it must be said that there was never a particularly big queue to join the choir. Basically, it was me surrounded by all these girls. That was fun.” Paisley, just outside Glasgow in Scotland, is where Paolo was born and raised, working for a time in the family’s fish ‘n’ chips shop. “I always thought I would carry on in the family business in the chippy,” says Paolo. “Initially I’d wanted to be a football player, specifically a goalkeeper. But the more I sang, the more I realised it was just something I could do, almost without effort. I was hardly going to walk away from that, was I? Of course, I told my dad I'd stay and do what was expected, but he wouldn't hear of it.”

His family has always been supportive, and he holds his grandfather Ada Nutini especially close to his dream. “He was a big music lover, my Nonno,” says Paolo. “He loved boogie woogie piano, he adored opera, and it was him that really encouraged me to sing. He always wanted somebody in the family to make music their living. He's not around to see it, unfortunately, but I'm doing just what he wanted, and I'm doing it in his honour.

Paolo’s big break came when he attended the concert of another Paisley native, David Sneddon. While waiting for Sneddon, a radio presenter held an impromptu quiz for the audience, promising the winner the opportunity to sing for the restless crowd. Paolo won and performed at his girlfriend’s insistence, wowing an audience that included Brendan Moon, who eventually became his manager. “Shortly after, I was moving to London to become a singer and to record an album,” says Paolo.

The album in reference is Paolo’s debut release These Streets. “Basically, the album is an autobiographical journey ~ a diary if you like ~ of my last three years,” says Paolo. “These Streets was about the fact that when I moved down to London, I just felt so lonely. London’s a very big place, and I felt that it could swallow you whole if you were on your own and didn’t know anybody. But the more people I got to know and the more places I’ve seen, the better London got, and now I’m happy.” The album, produced by Coldplay producer Ken Nelson, was recorded at a studio in Liverpool. “We spent a couple of months, on and off, with me going back to Scotland a few times to sort of keep my sanity,” laughs Paolo. “And yeah it was a great experience, touch wood that we get a chance to do it again. I’m glad I did it and who I did it with it.”

Last Request, the powerful first single, stems from Paolo’s first relationship with a girl he’s known since he was 12 years old (and who took him to the fateful David Sneddon concert). “It’s essentially a song about sex, which is what a lot of songs are about,” says Paolo. I’m a 19-year-old Scottish Italian boy. I don’t have much more on my mind, you know. [Laughs] That’s what it’s about, it’s about passion, and I think that’s one of the most important things in life. As the song progresses it’s also about wanting that moment ~ not necessarily the relationship back ~ but the moment, what you had there for that one minute.” But Paolo obviously did want the relationship ~ he’s back together with his high school girlfriend Teri, and even credits her in the album sleeve as being the inspiration for several of the songs.

You can read the rest of our feature on Paolo Nutini in the November-December 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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