ACL Music Fest Interviews

ACL Music Fest Interviews

Paolo Nutini

Friday, 12:30pm, AT&T stage

Paolo Nutini left SXSW a marked man. "I came back with tattoos, the Texas stars, after drinking some of that Lone Star beer," boasts the 19-year-old Scottish singer-songwriter. "I was having a drink even though it wasn't legal."

To clarify, Nutini had more than just a drink. By the third day of the Festival, after already performing four times, he wound up in the hospital where a doctor advised him to "stay away from the Texas tea."

For Atlantic Records – which signed Nutini a year ago to a reported five-album, seven-figure deal – SXSW was the perfect stateside introduction. Nutini's casual appearance – mop hair over pasty skin, Vote for Pedro T-shirt, and American Eagle stone-washed jeans – cast him as the lovable boy next door while his subtle charm and thick accent aroused an undeniable sense of intrigue.

His performances were much like those captured on his Live Sessions EP: intimate and largely acoustic affairs that professed the strength of his Otis Redding-inspired, soul-stirring vocals and the flashes of brilliance beneath his simplistic storytelling.

"The songs are just an attempt to document what's been happening in my life," says Nutini from a sold-out show at Liquid Rooms in Edinburgh. "If people can relate to what's going on with me, then that's great."

All of England seems able to identify with Nutini's chronicles of love and lust. His debut, These Streets, which reaches American shores in January, went gold in England in less than two weeks. Nutini shrugs off the success; "I've got a few years left in me still."

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