It’s been five years in the making, but Scottish retro-soul stylist Paolo Nutini finally has returned with a new album, his third, called “Caustic Love.” And, thanks to the raspy-throated, Stax/Volt passion he infuses on material like “Iron Sky,” “Better Man” and “Scream (Funk My Life Up),” it’s been a chart-topping comeback across the U.K. and Europe. But it masks a harsh truth. To write it, Nutini dropped off the rock-industry radar, disappearing into his hometown of Paisley, then on frequent anonymous junkets to Spain, Italy, Ireland, London, and even Los Angeles, often recording new tracks along the way. Also, he has begun his first graphic novel – “although the plot is a little confused at the moment,” he admits.
After touring behind 2009’s “Sunny Side Up,” you needed a change?
I wanted to do something that would change my reality. To be honest, I had been on a schedule ever since I first started singing professionally, a schedule every single day, and I’d barely had time to catch my breath, let alone explore some strange city that I was touring through. So my personal life was really suffering because of my professional life. Touring had become the reality of what I do, and there was no time to approach other things. So it was just a matter of deciding to redevelop it again.
Did going home help?
Yeah. It wasn’t anything drastic. But, for a start, I wanted to go home and just get used to that being my reality for more than just a month at a time. So I went there and caught up with friends, and was basically just around – around for them and reliable. And then I went around Europe, just traveled and looked for cool cultural things. Things that had nothing to do with my life as a musician.
And I was actually tracing my roots, so after Barcelona – which had amazing architecture and a great nightlife – I went to Italy, back to where my family originally came from, in a little village that was very non-commercial and untouched by consumerism. It was almost like going back in time. I stayed there for a few months, and I had my guitar and my laptop, and I did a lot of writing there. I also did a lot of thinking and a lot of drinking. I even found the time to take up carpentry.
Do you feel recharged now?
I feel a lot happier within myself, and I’m enjoying myself, enjoying things as they’re happening. So now I just want to come and play my new tunes for everybody. I want to take this opportunity and make the most of it. IF YOU GO
Where: Fox Theater, 1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Contact: (510) 302-2250, www.ticketmaster.com