BLUE-EYED soul – essentially black music made by white people – has always been a hit and miss affair, generally successful only when tackled by the monstrously talented, viz David Bowie and Van Morrison.
So by going all Curtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder on us for his five-years-in-the-making follow-up to 2009’s career-changing Sunny Side Up, Paolo Nutini is taking a big risk.
Happily it’s one that pays off, and his confidence in beginning with comeback single Scream (Funk My Life Up) is not misplaced.
With the exception of penultimate track Cherry Blossom, in which the Scotsman comes on all Kings of Leon for an out and out rock track, the entire album is a marvellous journey through (mainly) 1970s soul.
Managing to successfully channel Mayfield’s social commentary on Iron Sky is hugely impressive, as is his Bobby Womack on Let Me Down Easy, in which he samples Bettye Lavette’s track of the same name – and also duets with the US soul veteran.
What sound like choruses of angels (think the Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want) grace touching love songs such as the simply magnificent Better Man, and come on all 50s doo wop on the short but perfectly formed closer Someone Like You.
Like this? Try these: Rolling Stones, Let it Bleed; Stevie Wonder, Talking Book; Curtis Mayfield, Back to the World