(feat. track – “Coming Up Easy”)

Paolo Nutini has been sort of a quiet revelation for a while.  His first album, These Streets, made my Top 10 list in 2007, but its fun-but-nothing-special single, “New Shoes”, was not at all representative of the rest of the album, especially in the lyrics department.  Still, it got him some attention (especially back home in the UK), was even featured in a commercial or two, and he could hardly have been blamed if he had chosen to continue down the poppy path.  Instead, he’s turned in a true masterpiece of depth and breadth.

Pushing past the northern soul of his debut, Nutini has fully integrated the vastness of American musical culture – country, gospel, blues, even dixieland jazz – into his own folky leanings (which makes his continued failure to make a dent over here all the more inexplicable).  With his thick Scottish mushmouthed brogue and passionate grumble deftly layered over the top of the affair,  Sunny Side Up is an album which sounds like nothing so much as the second coming of Van Morrison.  If “New Shoes” was Nutini’s “Brown Eyed Girl”, then this is his Astral Weeks.

I really don’t think I could possibly overstate how great this album is.  I really think that, had it gotten more attention, it could have been one of those all-time-great albums, the sort that makes “essential listening” lists and gets talked about ad infinitum by critics, like Pet Sounds or the aforementioned Astral Weeks.  Perhaps it’ll be rediscovered someday. Maybe Paolo Nutini will hit the bigtime someday and people will dig back through his catalog. I hope the world catches on someday. In the meantime, I’ll just listen to it with a smile.  Over. And over. And over.