Tiger Moth Tales – A Song of Spring

Posted: 160322

Review Lex Dresianes

Finally, here it is, the long-awaited new album from Peter Jones’ Tiger Moth Tales (TMT). Not that we have been without for long, but the last ‘true’ TMT album dates back to 2018. After that, we saw the release of a live album, an 'in-between' and a special, acoustic album. But for the real successor to the Story Tellers cycle, some patience had to be exercised. This patience is finally being rewarded.

Recorded in 2021, newbie "A Song of Spring", is the second 'seasonal' album after 2017's acclaimed "The Depths of Winter" and the seventh studio album in succession. Once again the material is interspersed with stories, Jones is a master at that. He had had enough of the dark period, haven’t we all, it was time for a little more light as far as he was concerned. And after the dark winter comes the fresh and light spring. As is widely known, Tiger Moth Tales actually stands for Pete Jones. The extremely talented multi-instrumentalist chooses this 'vehicle' if he wants to produce old-fashioned, well-crafted, progressive rock with a twist. So all vocals, guitars, keyboards, saxophones, and even bass and drums come from the man from Nottinghamshire. Only for some lyrics and the odd guitar part, I’ll come back to that later, he enlisted the help of a select group of friends. This includes John Holden on whose "Circles In Time" he played and who has since become a good friend.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjtFGSaO0Rk

Opener Spring Fever is an up-tempo and above all light and airy jazzy pop song with Big Big Train influences, characteristic TMT keyboards and Jones' harmonious vocals. Plus a pleasant surprise: a Mel Collins-like contribution on saxophone and Pat Metheney-like guitar, it also reminds me somewhat of Camel. The rockabilly/jazz madness towards the end is typical Jones. ‘Spring fever is here again’.

The narrative Forester, almost eight minutes long, is one in the best Tiger Moth Tales tradition, albeit a bit lighter in nature. The song itself has little to do with spring, it is based on wife Kim Jones' favorite children's book, written by late Boyzone member Stephen Gately. The forester’s epic fight against the bad guys is perfectly portrayed by hectic keyboard parts and a guitar solo, referring to Steve Hackett; top-notch prog.

This is a different story, the longest track on the album, Dance Til Death, clocks in at over ten minutes. It's loosely based on Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, a pagan ritual of dance 'til you drop, literally. With the exception of the lovely acoustic intro, we have an ominous, gloomy atmosphere and slow pace. Not at all strange, given the macabre topic. Nothing light and airy at all, rather the opposite. But that doesn't make it any less fitting for the new album. A touch of Genesis here and there, especially in the middle section, driven by acoustic guitars and soaring keyboards. The dreamy saxophone is a welcome intervention before the deadly dance takes place, in some kind of trance.

Time for two short(ish) songs. Holi has a clear Indian spin in both composition, tempo and instrumentation, while The Goddess and the Green Man is an extension of the previous album, “The Whispering of the World”: Jones alone at the piano with an (electronic) string quartet and acoustic guitar as accompaniment. What a voice, goosebumps. Jones enlisted the help of John and Elisabeth Holden for the lyrics of both songs. Mad March Hare is another of those songs with this slight madness, that occasionally takes over Jones. It’s an inseparable part of him, like light and darkness. This time it's not too bad, except for the last part. We've heard stranger before, what about Three Little Pigs or Toad of Toad Hall.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QX4R_v-SVkw

Two longer songs to conclude “A Song of Spring”. First of all Rapa Nui (Big Rock) the song about Easter Island with its quirky and complex rhythm structures. Jones demonstrates that he is also a good drummer. Excellent prog song with strong references to Genesis and film scores. And with a Dutch twist: after all, the island was discovered by Jacob Roggeveen, on Easter Sunday, April 5, 1722. 'They sailed down from Amsterdam, searching for a distant land'. Highlight.

The epic Light is the official closing track. You can hear influences from Jones' favorites Big Big Train, both the acoustic parts but especially the horn section, conjured up from his keyboard instruments. And as icing on the cake, one of those wonderful electric guitar solos by Camel companion Andy Latimer, which the latter has patented. Long, lyrical melodic lines that will leave you yearning for better Camel times (“Harbour of Tears”/”Dust And Dreams”). The theme is the loss of a lost love with all the emotion that goes with it, lyrics courtesy of the Holden couple.

And then there's this bonus song, kind of hidden track in the last grooves of the album, figuratively speaking. May Time is an old English hymn, a nursery rhyme, once sung in a classroom by Jones and many other young English school children. He mixes this early 20th-century folk song with some jazz/fusion flavors, which makes it sound suspiciously like Spyro Gyra. Great song, but does it really belong on the album…?

If I may highlight something that characterizes this album compared to previous material, it is mainly the melodious, multi-harmony vocals, Jones' fabulous voice is regularly multi-tracked. Also noteworthy is the frequent use of so-called 'pennywhistles' (small, simple tin whistles) and recorder. And last but not least the return of the saxophone; Jones uses the copper colossus in no fewer than four songs. And with excellent taste. It just makes the palette of sounds even richer than before.

Once again an excellent album by Jones with a clearly 'lighter & airier' signature than its natural predecessor, "The Depths of Winter". Almost a full hour of high-quality prog, including bonus track, musically in line with “Story Tellers Part I & II” but especially aforementioned “The Depths of Winter”; the storyteller is back on familiar ground. With a little help from his friends.

Jones is now a busy and in-demand musician: a new Red Bazar album, new material and performances with Cyan, the collaboration with Magenta and Francis Dunnery and a Camel tour in 2023. Nevertheless, his real priority still lies with Tiger Moth Tales, according to the man himself. If there’s need for proof, if anything, it's this excellent new album. And we still have two seasons to go.

TRACK LISTING:
01. Spring Fever (6:53)
02. Forester (7:52)
03. Dance Til Death (10:21)
04. Holi (2:47)
05. The Goddess and the Green Man (2:39)
06. Mad March Hare (4:00)
07. Rapa Nui (7:35)
08. Light (8:25)
09. May Time [Hidden Bonus Track]

Total Time – 56:37 [including hidden track]

MUSICIANS:
Peter Jones – Vocals, Keyboards, Saxophone, Guitars, Drums, Percussion, Recorders & Whistles
With:
John Holden – Keyboards & Programming (track 4), Pad (track 3)
Andy Latimer – Electric Guitar (track 8)

ADDITIONAL INFO:
Record Label: White Knight Records
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 4th March 2022
www.tigermothtales.com/

DISCOGRAPHY:
A Song of Spring (2022)
The Whispering of the World (2020)
Still Alive (2020
A Visit to Zoetermeer (2020)
Story Tellers Part II (2018)
The Depths Of Winter (2017)
Story Tellers Part I (2015)
Cocoon (2014)