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Nutini's much-anticipated return with new single

IT'S very rare that a song lyric can actually make me laugh. By that I don't mean comedy or parody records, although Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie can knock out an amusing tune.

Nor, I must add, are we talking about lyrics so utterly atrocious that collapsing into hysterical guffawing is the only defence mechanism – yes, Dolores O'Riordan, you're head and shoulders above the competition here.

No, the last time time I cracked a genuine smile at a song was about five years ago when Paolo Nutini released Pencil Full of Lead in advance of his second album Sunny Side Up.

A joyous celebration of the finer things in life, it worked wonderfully on a musical level but, even so, when Nutini celebrated the sheer fabness of having "food in mah belly and a license for mah telly" I was in stitches. "A licence for mah telly" – brilliant and a true rock'n'roll first.

Nutini's 2006 debut These Streets was decent enough, if sounding a tad too processed, but Sunny Side Up was a different beast entirely. Any suspicions that the Glaswegian was a pretty boy troubadour punching above his weight, as a kind of hipper James Blunt, went out the window.

Here was someone taking complete control of his sound and stretching his music into a compelling Caledonian cocktail encompassing soul, R'n'B and folk influences alongside a razor-sharp pop instinct.

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It sounded warm, inviting and beautifully organic, evoking the kind of sensual musical stew which Van Morrison had down pat in the early 70s.

Songs like the fantastic Candy and Coming Up Easy were the icing on the cake and proof that Nutini was the real deal and in it for the long haul.

Well, he's back with a new single Scream (Funk Up My Life), a soul-rock hybrid which sounds like the record Bobby Gillespie always talks about making, with the album Caustic Love to follow in a fortnight.

Nutini's been taking his time and we await the results with great anticipation. For once, the phrase "Here's a few songs from the new album" shouldn't cause a stampede to the bar.

Paolo Nutini plays the Olympia on Thursday.

> George Byrne


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