On Second Thought: Pete Molinari – A Virtual Landslide (2008)

Pete Molinari’s second album found him going electric, with spectacular results. This felt more like a debut album than his all-acoustic low-fi Walking Off The Map.

The definite feel here is Nashville Skyline and Bringing It All Back Home. This is a beautiful album, in spite those obvious influences. “What is old is new again,” to quote a cliche’, really applies.

“I Came Out Of The Wilderness” confidently starts off the album with a locomotive train shuffle. It’s as good an introduction to Molinari’s new sound as any. Pete posseses a distinctive voice that’s a bit hard to describe. This is unique in today’s music world. It’s been referred to as sweet because of his high register, but I would like to add warm to that. The rocker “Adelaine” has an early Everly Brothers rockabilly feel to it, with a bit of Sun Records thrown in there. Very nice! The lovely “One Stolen Moment” sounds like an old country waltz hit single, albeit with a swell organ solo. Produced by Liam Watson to perfection at London’s fab Toe Rag Studios, Virtual Landslide (Damaged Goods Records) exudes a genuine heartfelt warmth because of that studio’s vintage equipment and, equally, because of Molinari and his musicians’ performances throughout it all.

Besides the obvious Dylanesque flair, it has been said there’s a Patsy Cline influence running through Pete’s music. That’s evident especially on “Hallelujah Blues,” another strong vocal performance. Hank Williams’ specter also shows up on the country shuffle “God Damn Lonesome Blues,” with some Dylan flourishes. Studio session legend BJ Cole lends his warm pedal steel guitar throughout the album, and is of particular note on the Western swing song “Dear Angelina” — tune that would not sound out of place at a campfire out in a prairie with cowboys in attendance.

There’s a couple of solo acoustic numbers included too, “Lest We Forget” and “Look What I Made Out Of My Head, Ma,” for those who miss his first album’s solitude. However, the warm reverb used here adds a welcome dramatic flair and tension. “I Don’t Like The Man I Am” displays that early Dylan electric sound with its slow, downtrodden, slightly bluesy pace.

Both sides of his 2007 indie 7″ vinyl single, “Sweet Louise” and “There She Still Remains,” are thankfully included on this album and it’s all the better for it. The most haunting song here is without question “Sweet Louise.” I still can not get this song out of my head — it’s a stone-cold classic! After many repeated plays, I’m still not tired of hearing it as it rises up from the Nashville Skyline on into the heavens.

Backed by a crack team of musicians (Ed Turner, Carwin Ellis, Rupert Brown, Matt Radford, Cole), Molinari has created a flowing stream of melody. If you love great melodic folk rock music, you must buy this fantastic album.

Steve Elliott

Steve Elliott has written for Shindig, Twist and Shake, Garage & Beat and Ugly Things. A big fan of all things rock and roll - especially the British Invasion, garage rock, psychedelic, new wave, folk rock, surf and power pop - he was a consultant on Sundazed Music's reissue of 'The Best of Butch Engle & The Styx: No Matter What You Say' in 2000, and has also provided liner notes for Italy's Misty Lane Records. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.