Paolo Nutini serenades fans with newest cd ‘Caustic Love’ out today

By Carl Nadig

Paolo Nutini has one of the well-recognized, serenading voices in the United Kingdom, and now its time for the United States to be serenaded.

Today, the Scottish singer-songwriter released his newest studio album, “Caustic Love.” This album deviates from the familiar groove of his folky demeanor. “Caustic Love” is a more mature expression of Nutini’s perspective while keeping the raw emotions of previous works, such as “Candy” from his “Sunny Side Up” album.

“Caustic Love” generates its power from a collection of styles, such as easy rock, swing and a little bit of reggae. Yet, the core of the album originates from Nutini’s sweet vocals and his usage of accompanying musicians. Just like Damien Rice, Nutini expresses a sense of vulnerability, especially in “Better Man.” This simple ballad touches beautifully but not persistently on regret. Nutini’s wailing voice, with a crowd of background vocalists, sounds like a lead preacher in mournful Sunday church choir. This meditative atmosphere shows Nutini’s insecurity, almost as if his confessions are past due. With soft guitars, the song touches on the mistakes he has made. During this emotional self-awareness, I wonder if Nutini borrowed some influence from John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy.”

Even with its melancholy, “Caustic Love” features some joyful zest that gets toes tapping. The track “Scream (Funk My Life Up),” a provocative and sophisticated tune, attacks listeners as the album’s opening single. Once again, background gospel singers play with the sound-and-response vocalization style as they toy with Nutini’s bouncy verses. The horn section doesn’t get too loud or too quiet, and it emits a sense of controlled chaos.

Going with the album’s chaos, the album’s art cover is a testament to Nutini’s variety of musical style. The portrait of Nutini in a multitude of oily colors is similar to Bob Dylan’s 1970 “Self Portrait” album cover. Unlike “Self Portrait,” this album possesses much more variety than country and folk. The cover’s color is appropriate for Nutini’s ideas of a conflicting romantic emotions, as expressed in a recent interview:

“The main idea is that when you fall in love with a person, you give yourself over,” Nutini said, according to “When love comes, it washes over all preconceptions, all the security, every barrier, and it leaves you vulnerable both to the agony and to the ecstasy.”