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Story and photos by Matt SchwenkeWith a voice and maturity in writing well beyond his years, Scottish singer/songwriter Paolo Nutini, who is now only 20, is riding a wave of success from his 2007 debut These Streets, which includes the jangly, pop hit "New Shoes," but after a stop in Milwaukee, his performance hinted at a musician capable of a lot more than being a poster boy for the next series of ads boasting new songs.
Wrapping up elements of pop, soul, folk and bare bones rock, Nutini's unique vocal tone creates a vintage sound with surprising range over the varying styles. A cover of the traditional tune "Troubles But God," which was originally recorded by Vera Hall and made famous in popular culture when sampled by Moby, sounded ages old while being delivered by the youthful musician. Representing Nutini's knack for crooning, the b-side "55 to 1" delivered unassuming folk that was ultimately warming, while "Jenny Don't Be Hasty" and "Alloway Grove" let loose barn-brawling rock. Usually delivering his vocals with a gentle rasp and mumble, Nutini took a cleaner approach to the beautiful ballad "Autumn," and the soul-inspired "Million Faces."
Nearly understandable when talking to the crowd with a heavy Scottish accent, Nutini's voice rings true in song over a host of styles. With the night-ending "Funky Cigarette" getting the crowd to get down over a country/bluegrass shuffle, there certainly seems to be a lot of directions for this musician to explore.
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