Entertainment & Arts

Paolo Nutini: 'I'd like another album out within a year'

Paolo Nutini Image copyright PA
Image caption Nutini performed tracks from his latest album Caustic Love at the Royal Albert Hall in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust

Scots singer Paolo Nutini was just 20 when his debut album These Streets came out. Now, seven years later, he is about to release his third album Caustic Love.

The new record by Paolo Nutini is the music equivalent of the pick 'n' mix counter of a famous and sadly now defunct high street shop.

In no particular order Caustic Love takes an almost exhausting jaunt around the worlds of classic 60s soul, funk, country-blues, hip-hop, electronica, 90s neo-soul, psychedelia and folk.

Acoustic tracks jostle for space with short sampled musical interludes in the vein of artists like DJ Format, David Holmes or 2ManyDJs.

"It's interesting because I've heard this a few times," he says. "But for me the last album that we made was far more schizophrenic in that sense, we were moving from ska... ish tracks to an accordion and fiddle song to a Dixieland theme.

"But this one retains an atmosphere and there's more of a common thread running through it than the last one.

'Like watching a movie'

Keen to demonstrate his point, Nutini pulls out his smartphone and starts scrolling through one of his random music playlists.

"I'll read it out to you... it goes from Andrea Bocelli to Chet Baker to Alice Cooper to Allen Toussaint to Arcade Fire to Arthur Brown to the Au Go-Go Singers to Baby Huey.

"So the mix of music has never been a problem for me but with this, I felt it was important to feel like I was watching a movie, and [the music represents] different scenes in the movie."

Caustic Love is Nutini's first record since 2009's relentlessly cheerful Sunny Side Up, his five-times platinum-selling number one album and follow up to These Streets.

The singer is speaking in his dressing room at the Royal Albert Hall, ahead of his headlining show for the Teenage Cancer Trust. It is one of the most prestigious venues in the UK and Nutini is pleased to be back.

"We've played here twice now, it's like a home from home," he jokes. "It doesn't get any less prestigious, you get that same feeling if you're playing at the BBC Maida Vale studios, you see all that history on the walls. It's a great place and it's great to be involved.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Nutini was praised by The Who frontman as "one of the best young singers in the UK"

The venue has been hosting gigs to raise money for the charity since 2000 and has seen such stars on the line-up as Sir Paul McCartney, Coldplay and Arctic Monkeys.

This year also saw shows from Ed Sheeran, OneRepublic and The Cure.

The Who singer Roger Daltrey is heavily involved and introduced Nutini on stage as "one of the best young singers in the UK". He even joined Nutini to duet on the new track Cherry Blossom.

"Roger asked us last year and we couldn't do it," explains Nutini. "I was hoping that Roger would invite us back and he did, I was walking down Buchannan street [in Glasgow] and the phone was in my pocket, and I missed the call.

"I listened to a voice message and it said, 'All right? It's Roger...' No matter how many times I speak to him, you look around and you're like...[mouths] 'It's Roger Daltrey'.

"He's so cool, he's such an inspiration for any vocalist and in general how fit he is and how to sustain the talent that he has."

Challenging fans

Nutini hasn't made it easy for fans attending his current shows hoping to hear their favourite songs. Tracks from his earlier albums, such as Jenny Don't Be Hasty and New Shoes are almost unrecognisable - verging on an all out metal assault.

"We're trying to get people into our atmosphere for this new album. I don't want to be like, 'We, owe people hits and we can't do too many new songs in the set, the idea is to draw them into our headspace which is more challenging.

"In the UK people are coming to shows with more of an expectation, they want to jump around to the old brass lines. In Bournemouth, some bloke shouted out, 'Play the songs properly,' 'cause we've reworked the old tracks. but I've got no desire to go over old ground.

"It feels like starting out again, it's a challenge trying to win people over again."

Iron Sky, one of the early stand out tracks from the record and early fan favourite features a sample from the 1939 Charlie Chaplin film The Great Dictator, in which a Jewish barber, in place of the leader of the film's title, delivers a speech urging the people of the world to throw off the shackles of oppressive regimes.

Image copyright Press shot
Image caption The album sees Nutini develop as a more mature artist

As Scots move closer to the 18 September referendum on independence, unsurprisingly the track has been seized upon by some as being a pro-independence call to action.

"I've been asked a lot about the meaning of the song," admits Paisley resident Nutini. "There is disillusion and there is struggle and feelings of injustice that is echoed in the song, of course there is but it was never specific," he adds.

"When you're looking around for somebody to help us move forward and you're trying to put your faith in someone and believe in somebody, like a lot of people did with Obama for instance and you see how - even with all the will in the world, politics wins when it comes to him having to pass everything through a Republican Senate and very little really gets done."

And specifically on the issue of the song calling for Scots independence? "For me, it was never what I set out and it certainly wasn't meant to be a tool for that purpose," he insists. "I think the scale is a lot grander in the problems and issues that I'm talking about

"The Chaplin sample for me just echoes what I'm saying."

Adele's influence

The song received some press attention thanks to Oscar-winning singer Adele, who tweeted a link to a video of Nutini performing the song live saying it was "one of the best things I've ever seen in my life hands down."

"It's amazing how influential she is, she said it and people picked up on it," he says. "I don't tweet but people send me screenshots. Paloma Faith was really kind as well. We've had great feedback on it. I'm just so happy."

Alongside the more soulful efforts in the album such as Let Her Down Easy, which could have been lifted direct from the archives of Amy Winehouse are more traditional folk- rock tracks like the tender acoustic Better Man and the psychedelic crescendo of Cherry Blossom.

Nutini reveals he has a lot more new songs to come in the same vein.

"Ideally, I'd like another album out within a year. We've got a 10 to 14 track record with that type of material, we're flirting with the idea of going down that avenue with the next album.

"Perhaps we'll make it a lot easier and strip the production back and go back to some raw and uncomplicated acoustic tracks.

"There's a hefty bundle of them building up."

Caustic Love is released on 14 April.

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