WHAT AN IRONY that so many new-generation “soul” singers sound like they’ve spent months aping the greats for their one Kodak moment on some stupid TV talent show. Paolo Nutini – whose second album, Sunny Side Up (2009) made it right to the top of the UK charts – reeks of rigorous lab-tested, focus-group-led market research.
In fact, his third album, Caustic Love, is freeze-dried Q Magazine-endorsed middle class blue-eyed “soul” that’s about as alluring as Seal, or that other now-unremembered 1980s group, The Christians.
Except that, in their own way, The Christians were better than this, because they wore their middle class backgrounds on their sleeves, where Nutini hides behind such a remarkable degree of pastiche that it nullifies any merit that may otherwise be found in the songs.
Nutini wants to be Sam Cooke, with the Rolling Stones doing their rickety gospel thing on backing tracks (complete with Harlem chorale), but really, he’s Lenny Kravitz with a side order of Terence Trent Darby, and the too-clean production leaves no room for any true grit that might find its way into the studio.
By the time we get to ‘Iron Sky’, the eighth song of this 13-song album, I want to smash him in the face (and I don’t believe in violence). Some English reviewer wrote that this piece was “a stirring blend of conscious-soul subject with deep-soul style” and that it was “like Percy Sledge singing Curtis Mayfield.” But with lyrics as risible as “We are proud individuals/Living for the city”, I found myself screaming profanities at my stereo system. GARY STEEL
Sound = 3.5
Music = 2