Paolo Nutini

These Streets

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It's easy enough for a teenager to write songs about heartbreak and falling in love and all those difficult places in between, but it is much less easy to do so without coming across as whiny or melodramatic. Paolo Nutini, who was still a teenager when he recorded his debut, These Streets, manages for the most part to successfully convey his (barely) post-pubescent feelings of love and lust (which are often interchangeable) fairly convincingly. He certainly has some help -- every track has at least one other co-writer -- but Nutini, with his prematurely world-weary gravely voice, does his part to show honest emotion. On his first single, the fantastically poppy "Jenny Don't Be Hasty," the singer tries to convince an "older woman" that his youth doesn't have to negatively affect their relationship, and though the lyrics are fairly simple, as they are on all the tracks on the album (the overt metaphor in "New Shoes," for example, is more than a little hackneyed), they're effective and almost endearing in the way he tries to pretend to be older ("Don't treat me like a baby/Let me take you where you let me," he pleads). Occasionally he does go a bit overboard and tries to be too adult, like in "Rewind" -- a weak point in the album -- where he reminisces about the relationship he had had two years before, when he was 16, and it ends up seeming forced. Generally, however, his sentiments are expressed in a way that convey his age appropriately, like in "Loving You," which has him singing bluntly, "I think it's time for all those morals to leave/Let's get down and freaky baby," or in the title song, where he confesses that growing up can be overwhelming, and is touchingly honest and insightful and not dragged down in its own reflection. Nutini's Scottish brogue mixes nicely with the album's (sometimes too) clean production, and it all works well to make blue-eyed soul-influenced radio pop, with melodies that take a minute or so before they grab you, so that they're catchy but not annoyingly so. These Streets won't blow anyone away with its creativeness or ingenuity, but it's done well and it's direct and open and enjoyable to listen to, which is more than enough.

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