Starting with 10/10, the album has a happy, festive opener. A little blues and a little reggae mix into a very summery opening track and with Nutini’s soaring vocals we have something very exciting in our hands. Excellent start of this new chapter in the musical life of Paolo Nutini.
And with the subtle Coming Up Easy, Nutini immediately shows his intentions. It has a nice swing to it and while it is something you’d expect a few decades ago rather than now, it has a surprisingly current feel to it. For the real music fanatics this is pure ear candy. Growing Up Beside You has a very interesting sound. It’s one of those tracks that you either love or hate. For me it’s definitely a track to love. Musically there’s a lot of excitement to find out and every listen I discover something new. The song just remains fresh and while it might take you a little time to get used to Nutini’s new style, you can’t deny it’s musically sound.
Lead single Candy is one of the more mainstream tracks on the album. Lyrically it’s one of the album’s best. It has a nice guitar melody and the drums also help to make it quite catchy. The balladeer Paolo Nutini makes a prime appearance and it makes a lot of sense that this was picked as a single. I can hear some Fleetwood Mac influences in the song too.
The folky Tricks of the Trade might be my favorite song on the album. I grew up with a lot of folk and country music and this song plays right into my soft spot in that genre. There’s a lot of sentiment and heartfelt passion in the song while the gentle music has that troubadour-ish feel to it. It’s pretty basic, and it gives way for the equation that music = emotion. It’s something that I live by, and this song sums that up quite nicely.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Pencil Full of Lead will be the next single. It’s extremely infectious with the uptempo vocals and nice rhythm provided by the percussion. It has that Disney/Jungle Book sound at times but it just combines a lot of styles (swing, jazz, blues, pop, americana) and Nutini blends it into something that sounds surprisingly mainstream. PS. I love the harmonica.
Nutini shows himself from a more gentle side on No Other Way. While there’s a little reggae in the vocals the song’s basically a slow blues-rock song. And Nutini plays this very well. Building up the tension with all the instrumentals in perfect balance, this is another top track. And then on High Hopes, Nutini surprises again. I’m not sure how to describe it, but it’s a little different again, yet it fits with the rest of the album. Nice changes in tempo and intensity make it very appealing.
While the song’s called Chamber Music, that’s not really the way I’d describe it. It’s a singer/songwriter song for sure and it’s mighty pretty. Though later on there might be a little part that refers to the song title. Maybe I should leave it at that and let you enjoy it yourself. Possibly a radio release? Simple Things is definitely a candidate to be released as a radio single. It’s not the most mainstream, but the uptempo folk/rock song with obvious americana (scotlanda?) influences has something about it. It flows well and is certainly catchy. Cool honky tonk vibe near the end.
Worried Man might be the most impressive track on the album. Leonard Cohen/Johnny Cash influences in the songwriting? I would think so. The country/blues/folk/rock song, for me is the ultimate highlight on the album. Everything fits and Paolo Nutini reaches an extremely high level that makes me appreciate his music even more.
The album ends with Keep Rolling which is a slower, more stretched song with influences from several different directions. It has a 50s/60s vibe to it and might not appeal much to the fans of Nutini’s debut album. But musically it’s oh so sound and the arrangement is very impressive. Nice, solid way to end this excellent album.
I really enjoyed “These Streets” but the level that Nutini reaches on “Sunny Side Up” is remarkable. While a lot of the more mainstream fans and critics will disagree with me, Nutini makes many steps forward with this album. I give him a lot of praise for this daring venture, a step towards a genre (or better, genres) that haven’t really been thriving lately. The influences of reggae, blues, jazz, folk and americana make a very cohesive album that also has an impressive production. Everything falls together and Paolo Nutini delivers the best album of 2009 so far.