These Streets

These Streets

Despite being a male singer-songwriter with a guitar emerging in the mid 2000s into a sea of them, there was something different about Paolo Nutini. It could have been the mainland European bounce of his cheery everyman songs (the Scot is of Italian descent) or the fact he cheekily toed the line between cheesy and classic. Either way, his debut These Streets was an instant—and enduring—British hit. In his teens, Nutini had moved to London and performed regularly at a pub in Balham. His ability to captivate and move a crowd with his eyes closed (quite literally, that was how he liked to play) meant he was soon co-signed by artists as significant as The Rolling Stones, Amy Winehouse and KT Tunstall, supporting them on tour. That endearing busker spirit is all across his debut album, mostly written when he was just a teenager and about the end of his first long-term relationship. It opens with the knee-slapper “Jenny Don’t Be Hasty”, a 2000s indie playlist favourite about an almost-tryst with an older woman, and immediately switches gears into his debut single, the ubiquitous acoustic ballad “Last Request”, about a tale of a couple’s last night together. On the latter he sings, “Slow down, lie down/Remember it’s just you and me”, an opening line that has been sung with abandon at British pubs since its conception. The next heart-wrenching ballad “Rewind” is a crystalline—and universally relatable—heartbreak narrative on which Nutini wishes he could turn back time to before his relationship ended. Unwaveringly positive rock-pop number “New Shoes” puts a fresh spin on problem-solving by putting on, well, a pair of new shoes. According to Nutini, he was just trying to imagine a world in which fixing issues was as easy and instantaneous. Despite its follow-ups, These Streets is by far Nutini’s most successful and beloved album. There’s something soul-warming about his approach to simple songwriting done well. It’s an album from the persona of a troubadour with a heart of gold.

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