“My dad liked to come home after work and eat anything but the stuff,” he says via phone from Europe, shortly before heading off for his current tour of North America. “After working a 12 hour week, the last thing you want to see is a fish or a chip.”
It's been almost three years now since Nutini dropped out and packed up for London, leaving his family's quaint joint behind to find his own voice. The trek began in 2003, when Nutini was at a local concert with delays.
In an effort to calm the crowd, an impromptu talent competition was organized and Nutini hopped on stage. He sung a few tunes, which garnered applause from the audience, particularly from now-manager Brendan Moon, who offered to help Nutini quit school and hit the road.
“It was my last year of high school so it was sort of a conflict of interest,” the singer-songwriter says. “But I kind of just felt like I wanted to get rid of that pain the ass.”
In London, Nutini signed to Atlantic Records and penned These Streets , his debut album, which teems with more than just the latest success story quality. The collection offers up a varied mix of music, ranging from the catchy first single “New Shoes” to bone-chillingly proficient love songs, which have already begun to warrant a James Blunt comparison. (For the record, Nutini is the one with the legitimate talent chops.)
“I try to write with the sentiment of Bob Dylan or Johnny Cash, who spoke about love and living alone like men – the black sheep life,” he shares. “I think we all kind of wear our hearts on our sleeves.”
Word about Nutini has spread like wildfire: in 2006, he was named one of Rolling Stone's “10 Artists to Watch,” These Streets is now certified platinum in the U.K. and he's already opened for Mick Jagger.
“I have great confusion over the whole thing,” he says of the success. “It started out as a good excuse to go out and be around music and get drunk, and it's just built up.”
Looking at Nutini for the first time is slightly disconcerting – how is such maturity able to ooze out of the body of a guy who's just left his teens? Nutini is admittedly above average looking; however, with supremely pouty lips and a perfectly sculpted coif, he is more Calvin Klein model than boy-next-door.
“I used to hold my hair with a lot more regard when I was 16,” he laughs. “I'd spike it up then. But now it's the last thing on my mind. I just toss some styling product in overnight, and I'm happy.”
Nutini's appearance is so deceptive that upon his arrival one evening at London's popular 12 Bar, he cajoled a 23-year-old into believing she was only one year his senior when in actuality, he was a mere 18.
The story – which is all re-lived on the first track of the album “Jenny Don't Be Hasty” – ended a couple months later when Nutini sent a text message age-reveal, which earned him a slap in the face.
“I've not seen her since the day she dismissed me,” he sighs. “I hope all the best to her.”
Nutini credits his game to – where else? – but his high school 40-piece class choir. As one of two dudes in an all-girls group, he was able to gain a comfort level with girls which has stuck over the years.
“I've toughened up about women a bit now,” he says with a Scottish accent so thick it's barely decipherable to the American ear.
Sweet talk, apparently, is able to transcend all language barriers.
These Streets is currently available. Paolo Nutini will perform March 23 at the Avalon in Hollywood. For more information, visit www.paolonutini.com.