Paolo Nutini

Paolo Nutini, sunny side up.

Twenty-two-year-old singer/songwriter Paolo Nutini confounds most expectations, from his name on up. Despite its Mediterranean sound, Nutini hails from Paisley, Scotland (though his father's side of the family is Italian a few generations back). And despite his early shaggy, long-haired image, Nutini is not yet another dour rocker from his rainy homeland.

Rather, his 2006 debut album, These Streets, released when he was just 19, displayed a precocious knack for riding the "pop" side of indie pop. "New Shoes," the breakout single from that album and his biggest hit to date in the United States, was an inescapable, hummable slice of cheerful acoustic-propelled soul. Not that he was incapable of seriousness either. Deeper cuts from that album tackled heavier autobiographical matter with a relatively rough, bluesy sound. Take, for example, "Jenny, Don't Be Hasty," a first-person account of a failed affair with an older woman. While Nutini is a bona fide big star in the U.K., where he will headline the massive V Festivals in a few days, he's still working on conquering the States. As such, he'll be touring smaller venues in support of his latest full-length, Sunny Side Up. This one sees him turning in some almost Van Morrison-style vocal performances, rubbed with the textures of classic American R&B and folk.

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