To look at the impossibly cute nineteen year old singer-songwriter Paolo Nutini, you'd think he would sound like a choirboy. Instead, his voice is kind of half gravel-toned soul crooner and half drunken, toothless tramp. It's a curious mix, but it works. His decidedly unteenage voice lends some weight these sometimes forgettable tunes -- and it's infinitely preferable to the grating, whiney tones of someone like James Blunt. Nutini is already something of a star back in Britain, where his debut record, These Streets has sold by the bucketload, and it's not difficult to see why. It's catchy and polished with enough rough-edged soul to suggest you're getting the real deal. This EP features pretty faithful live versions four of the album's best songs, and though it's mostly inconsequential stuff, it does showcase a promising talent.
Whether or not these songs are a product of Nutini's own imagination (a predictable array of co-writers are listed in the credits), they undeniably possess a naïve charm that's difficult not to warm to. "These Streets" is a lovely starry-eyed ballad about being lost in the big city, which seems to be grounded in some genuine emotion. It sounds a bit like the sort of song that Rod Stewart used to croon before he discovered leopard-print leggings. Even better is "Jenny, Don't Be Hasty", an almost strutting blues track that shows a refreshing willingness to shake up the singer-songwriter formula up a bit. "Last Request" is a decent, earnest pop song that sounds far better live, and "New Shoes" seems to be a ballad about, er, shoes. In truth, there's nothing too memorable about Paolo Nutini, save for his whiskey-and-fags-flecked voice (he's actually barely old enough to smoke, let alone get served in a bar, but hey), but it's a potentially great sound. With the right material and a bit more weathered experience behind him, Paolo Nutini could be a name to watch.