The ‘Shine a Light‘ EP by Paolo Nutini is some of the best music you will have heard in years. He opens in typical Paolo fashion with the song ‘Shine a Light,’ with the line ‘’You say you want a lover, and you need them now.’’ He then continues; “You’re dancing with the devil with your perfect smile/How are you?’’
He has long been known for his rich, raspy vocals and a languid, feline, good-as-gold persona that entwines film references and political themes into his work. Recently it reached headlines that he will be sampling Quentin Tarantino on his upcoming album. Paulo Nutini is a film enthusiast, and previously his politically-charged tune ‘Iron Sky’ featured an excerpt from a speech given by Charlie Chaplin in his 1940 movie ‘The Great Dictator’. Known for his subversive, twisted, and anarchic blockbusters, Tarantino seems like an odd choice, but perhaps indicates a sharpening of Paolo’s artistic direction and movement into razor-sharp lyricism as seen with songs like ‘Lose It’ on the EP.
Nutini has long been branded as the raspy, soulful yet radio-friendly pop-rocker (a Springsteenian voice with a Van Morrisonesque soul) who has immortalized classics like ‘Jenny Don’t Be Hasty,’ ‘Last Request’, ‘Pencil Full of Lead’, ‘Candy’ and ‘Iron Sky’. He has a very genuine attitude to music which means he is well-loved by his fans, but this did not stop the shock when he dropped this EP out of the blue after several years of musical hiatus.
From the new EP, his style has sharpened: ‘Through the Echoes’ is a rocky, artistic, and synth-heavy but powerful song about love’s endurance, and contains a kind of musical telepathy, (‘over and over again’) that just makes sense given his ability to reach out to his audience repeatedly. In ‘Lose It,’ Nutini bravely asks us to take those ‘blue, blue’ memories and just ‘lose it.’ He sings ‘I could not seem to find/a way out of my worried mind’ as if emotions now cut neat rhythms, and when paced right, could resolve their own complexities.
His top layer is so impenetrable with its bold emotions that it’s hard to understand Paolo Nutini’s secret. He combines sad lyrics (“I’m always wondering what it would be like to die?’’) with the raffish charm of a t-shirt and jeans Scot with cinematic good looks and an emollient voice. His songs are exciting experiments in the bending of genre convention, but does breaking convention for individual expression come at a cost? Paolo seems to have been shaped by the art he creates which perhaps explains why he has always been silently on the fringes of the music scene. As 2022 rolls on and Paolo begins touring again, we wonder in anticipation what charm, frankness, and originality the upcoming album shall bring.