Pete Molinari’s 2006 debut, Walking Off The Map, was perfectly named. Recorded on a simple, DIY tape machine, his songs sound distinctly Southern–a little Memphis rockabilly, a dash of Delta blues, and Nashville country’s simplicity. The real kicker? Molinari was raised outside London, born to a family with Maltese, Italian, and Egyptian roots. He comes from a long history of British singers who have appropriated American roots music as their own, using their outsider status to bring something new to the music. The old guard has given its approval to Molinari–Bruce Springsteen is a fan, and last summer Yoko Ono invited Molinari to play a few John Lennon songs at the Royal Festival Hall in London.
Since that debut album, Molinari has gone in a more electric direction, teaming up with Grammy-winner Liam Watson, a producer known for his love of live recording. For Molinari’s fourth record, Theosophy, he relied on a batch of Nashville studio musicians, which adds a slickness to his fiery folk songs. Still, the raw energy of the recording session cuts through on songs like “Hang My Head In Shame.” The old ghosts echo throughout, but Molinari’s own signature is the real draw.