The Whispering Of The World – Tiger Moth Tales
Peter Jones is back with another album from his Tiger Moth Tales project and depending how you look at it this is either the 5th or 6th studio album to be released in this protect of his. I myself am sticking with the record company which clearly has tagged his previous release Still Alive from earlier this year as a EP “White Knight Records – WKEP0720”. Although in retrospect that EP could also be seen has a mini album and in all honesty, it is perhaps more fitting with his project than what we have here with the material on this latest offering.
The Whispering Of The World is quite a different album and I suppose in a way it does sort of emulate what he was doing with some of the material that found its way on his previous EP. Certainly regarding its self-titled track “Still Alive” and “Golden” along with the other odd track here and there that have appeared on other Tiger Moth Tales albums over the years. These are very much songwriters’ songs to which I personally have nothing against and even I myself will find a hell of a lot more meaning behind those types of songs than what I ever will with much of the mythical fantasy lyrics that are quite often associated with prog-rock.
However, what we do have here is much more of a stripped back affair and more of an acoustic and meaningful light-hearted approach has been given to the new material in that it only features voice, piano and orchestration. It’s not an album that will be competing for the PROG! album of the year for example, and in some respects, it could be said that this is more of a Peter Jones album than a Tiger Moth Tales album even though they are both the same person.
But I am sure you will know where I am coming from with the differences between his own solo material and that of his project which was set up more for the purpose of PROGSTERS! or even MOTHSTERS! depending on which way you look at it. However, you look at it there is no denying that the man himself is quite a remarkable talented and gifted musician who knows how to write a good song or two. But before I delve any deeper into what lies beneath the surface of his latest album, let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork.
Packaging & Artwork…
The discs come in a very good quality well-made 3-panel cardboard Digisleeve which gives it a nice touch regarding it presentation. Die cut pockets holds the discs and the booklet firmly in place and overall, it’s a very neat and tidy package. The 12-page booklet contains all the usual linear credits and production notes, including lyrics and photographs plus it also comes with some informative information which is nice to see.
I pre-ordered my copy on the 9th of November from White Knight Records and I was well surprised that it arrived a couple of weeks before its release date. They really were well on the ball this time and it was most unexpected I will say. I do find both this record company and its older brother Tiger Moth Records cheaper than the other outlets and use them all the time and they do offer GREAT! value for the buck. As you can see from the picture above the CD comes with a bonus DVD and at its price point of £12 plus £1.75 postage & packing you cannot go wrong with and are onto a real winner.
The albums cover artwork is a picture of Mary’s Shell which can be found on Cleveley’s beach in Lancashire, England. It was sculptured by the British sculptor Stephen Broadbent who specialises in public art and the shell is only fully visible when the tide goes out. The metal sculpture is part of the Mythic Coast art which brings the story of the Sea Shallow to life! You can see the shell more clearly in this video clip.
Unfortunately, I have no idea who took the photograph of the Shell for the album cover or any of the other photographs in the booklet because they have been left out of the credits as well as the artwork itself. But through my research there are many photographers who photograph the object and sell the prints in frames. My guess is whoever snapped the photo used a long exposure for the effect. I quite like the artwork and it’s well apt to fit in with the albums title.
The Album In Review…
The Whispering Of The World by Tiger Moth Tales was officially released on the 4th of December 2020. The album contains 10 tracks to which all bar one are very much vocal tracks, and it comes with an overall playing time of 46 minutes 55 seconds which is a very respectable time slot that allows one to take things in and digest a lot more comfortably. It’s very much more of a songwriter’s album in that most of the tracks are over a shorter distance and only a couple of them are over more of a lengthier distance that is perhaps commonly associated with PROGMATIC! side of things.
Pete Jones was working on this album before the pandemic arrived and once it did arrive, he got side-tracked, hence the reason why he worked on the newer material that made up the EP Still Alive at home and why that got put out before this release. What was to become Tiger Moth Tales 5th studio album was recorded at Rockfield Studios and it was Robert Reed who gave Jones the idea to make a different album and also produced it along with Andrew Lawson.
It is without doubt quite a different album and it’s not so much on the PROGMATIC! side of things like the previous EP and some of his other albums. In some respects, I would liken the material leaning more towards his 3rd album In The Depths Of Winter. Only here the songs I personally feel are more meaningful and the fact that they are shorter and not so overcooked like I felt they was on that album; it does make them tie in with more of a good songwriter’s song. It is more so the lyrical content that makes good songwriters songs stand out so well to which “Still Alive” certainly did and was the standout track on that EP.
This new album also has a standout track and speaking of things that standout, just like the previous EP, this latest release also comes accompanied with a live DVD. So, lets now take a look at the contents and see what extra bonus material you get here.
The bonus DVD main feature contains what’s known as The Quiet Room Session which was recorded at Fieldgate Studios whilst Pete Jones was working on the material for the new album. Pretty much all of the songs from these live sessions were screened and streamed on the Quiet Room TV website back in April of this year to which you could watch for free. The only song that was missing from that streamed session was “Blackbird” which is included on this DVD.
Five of the older songs from the sessions was also released in audio only back in August and put out as an EP in the form of a digital download only and sold on Bandcamp. The DVD also includes three Promo Videos which feature a short interview with Pete Jones and a couple of promotional videos from the new album. The total running time of the DVD is 58 minutes 29 seconds.
The DVD’s menu contains everything on one-page making it very easy to navigate your way around and you simply point the white triangular cursor at any one of the tracks to play, or simply play the video from the beginning as you can see in the picture above. It’s also worth noting that the promotional videos will automatically play after the main feature.
Picture / Editing & Sound Quality.
Both the picture and the editing were done by Andrew Lawson and he’s done an excellent job on the both and it’s been filmed in HD. The picture quality is quite pristine and looks as sharp as a blu ray when played back on a blu ray player that has good upscaling. To be honest even though it’s a DVD you would think you were watching a blu ray. It comes with a single Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo 48K 448kbps soundtrack and the sound quality is very good. It would have been better if they included a lossless format such as LPCM but I have no complaints here and a TOP JOB has been done overall.
The Bonus DVD In Review…
Unlike the live DVD that came with the Still Alive EP. These are individual live acoustic takes featuring Pete Jones on the piano and vocals only that have been captured on film at various times unlike a live concert where everything is rolled out at once. So, there is margin for error and some of them may of took more than one take and more of a studio process has been given to each live recording sort of thing. Both the introduction interview is short but do give some useful informative information.
Both the promotional videos like the album tracks are accompanied by a string arrangement and have images superimposed over them. I am pretty sure that “Blackbird” is a different take to the solo performance that is on the main feature of the DVD or they may have used a different camera angle. Overall, the bonus DVD is very good and a nice feature to have. It also comes for free making it a real bonus to have.
Musicians & Credits…
All songs written by Pete Jones. Produced by Robert Reed & Andrew Lawson. String Arrangements by Ian Lawson & Pete Jones. Recorded & Mixed by Andrew Lawson at Fieldgate Studios in Wales sometime between 2019/20. Filmed & Edited by Andrew Lawson. Artwork Sculpture by Stephen Broadbent.
Pete Jones: Grand Piano & Vocals.
David Adams & Lowri Porter: Violin.
Nancy Johnson: Viola.
Sandy Bartai & Sarah Berger: Cello.
The Album Tracks In Review…
Much of the material that Pete Jones wrote for this new album is based on memories and significant moments of time he’s either spent alone or with family and friends. Like his third album In The Depths Of Winter there is more of a serious side to the material and it tends to lack the humorous side of things that featured so well on other albums in the discography of his Tiger Moth Tales project.
Though like I mentioned earlier I do feel that lyrical content we have here does have more of a purposeful meaning in that it reflects on the things that are around us like nature and life itself, rather than mythical tales such as Robin Hood for example. That’s not to say that “The Ballad of Longshanks John” is not a good song and to be perfectly honest even the lyrical content that is in some of his humorous songs he’s done in the past are very cleverly written. But what often makes GREAT! songwriters’ songs are by writing about the things around us and all that relates to life itself.
Even though I am no big fan of The Beatles or Bob Dylan I could never deny that they wrote GREAT! songs and quite often that is exactly how they went about the lyrical content to their songs and that is what made them so successful. The definition of any good song is one that will be more memorable and stick inside your head and they wrote a good few of them. That perhaps is more of the approach and direction that Jones is going with this new set of songs with its acoustic approach and besides his voice and piano he is also accompanied by real strings played by real musicians which is nice to see. So, lets now delve a bit deeper into the album tracks and see how it all pans out.
Track 1. Taking The Dawn.
The album opens up in quite a joyful and pleasant way with it’s opening song to which the piano is nicely embellished by a string quintet or a “Cello Quintet” which is basically scored for a standard string quartet plus an extra cello instead of the extra viola which is more usual in conventional string quintets. It’s very much the same sort of quintet that Franz Schubert used for his final chamber work, the String Quintet in C major (D. 956, Op. posth. 163) to which he completed two months before his death back in 1828. All five string players are doing a wonderful job and the arrangement fits in and follows the piano like a glove.
Musically its quite a nice structured piece that Jones has written here on the piano and it’s almost like it does not have a chorus with how it follows the verse which is more like a two-part verse, he’s also incorporated a nice bridge into it to take it somewhere else and break it up and it can be quite uplifting. Lyrically the words pertain to the title literally and they are pertaining to one of the first things you will hear at the crack of dawn which are the birds singing gleefully away.
One of the interesting things about the lyrics is that the song opens up with the same verse (as seen below) that was used on “Still Alive (Reprise)” from his previous EP. That particular song ended off the EP and it’s a bit like they are in some way tied together in a way of a continuation sort of thing. Though I am fairly sure that “Taking The Dawn” was written beforehand but it’s worked out quite well with how both the EP and album were released.
“Way before the light
I’m waiting by the window
Who will be the first?
The first to break the silence”
Overall, the opening song gets the album off to quite a promising start and although Jones does a convincing enough job of delivering the words with his fine voice and there are parts where he does have to excruciate his voice to get the words out which will make it that bit harder to perform live. It may even present him with a problem further on in the future if his voice drops like many singer’s voices have has, they have got older. Hopefully he will not have that problem like many others and I quite like the bright and airy feel of this song and would put it as one of the contenders for the albums TOP SPOT!
Track 2. The Whispering Of The World.
The albums self-titled track is up next and this is a song that was inspired from the echoes of his past from a time he was on holiday in Majorca standing on a rock cliff by the sea hearing a strange sound. The sound he was hearing was the whispering of the wind which was being channelled through a hole in a rock and I quite like how he’s put the words into context and how they fit with the title. It’s quite a haunting song and it’s very well portrayed in the video that was made for it as you can see here.
Musically Its quite dramatic and down-tempo with its undertones, it also captures fear, darkness and even a sense of depression with its mood but also reflects a certain amount of elegance and grace in some of its brighter parts. Considering all of this came out of a bit wind blowing through a rock is quite an achievement and shows you how creative one can be when they put their mind to it.
It is one of the better songs on the album and a strong contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD! However, it’s not exactly what one would call Top Of The Pops material and with its depressing mood it would stand more chance of being more popular at a wake 😁😁😁. JOKING! apart it’s a very well-constructed song that reflects the more serious side that was given to some of the material on his third album In The Depths Of Winter, and this is the type of song that is perhaps more fitting to that album.
Track 3. Sweeter Than Wine.
This is quite the opposite in contrast to the previous track and effectively this song might very well have been purposely placed here to lift you out of the doldrums sort of thing. This is quite a colourful song that reflects an elegant touch of beauty and romance and it flows like a river of wine with how it’s put over so sweetly with Peter’s voice. The piano is dancing along with the orchestration and everything is in perfect unison and fits in like a glove. Lyrically there is a touch of romance too, and the words are pertaining to memories of love and friendship. It’s the shortest track on the album and a BEAUTY!
Track 4. Quiet Night.
From the shortest to the longest track on the album and this song has more of PROGMATIC! feel to it and weighs in at a tad under 9 minutes. The lyrical content evokes and pertains to fear and was inspired by another of his childhood memories on another of his holiday’s. There is some nice chord progression along the transitional changes and I am hearing influences from Neal Morse, Frost* and Genesis along its path and this is once again masterfully very well-orchestrated and the strings add to the colour and enhancement.
It’s very much a song that is cooked on a slow burner regarding its pace and is beautifully lifted up towards the end. The contrast of light and shade reflect very well throughout and with how Jones delivers the story and its melodic structure provide a glowing and comforting warmth to the fear and the darkness. It is without doubt another of the better songs on the album and a really GREAT! job as been done on it. Enough to make it one of the contenders for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!
Track 5. A Town By The Sea.
Another very well-orchestrated piece and this is the only instrumental piece on the album and it borders on the lines of contemporary classical and folk music. It’s quite unusual especially in comparison to something like “Hundred Acre Wood” from Story Tellers (Part Two) which is more along the lines of classic jazz. I don’t think there is as style of music Jones cannot play and I love him doing some of those old songs like “The Gas Man Cometh” by Flanders & Swann and he and the orchestra of strings have done another GREAT! job here for sure.
Track 6. Blackbird.
I said this was an album with another standout song and this is it. No doubt Paul McCartney wrote a GREAT! song about a blackbird on his guitar when he was in the Beatles back in the 60’s and now Jones has done one equally as good with this one on the piano. These are really GREAT! lyrics that pertain to nature and the things around us, they are the very thing that make GREAT! songwriter songs as you can hear in the second promotional video that was made for the album.
This is very much the song that makes this album and made me go out and buy it. It’s quite a memorable song and a little GEM! It’s also my personal favourite track on the album and I expect it will be for many others too. It easily merits the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!
Track 7. Waving, Drowning.
This next song musically has a sort of a striking Burt Bacharach feel and presence about it with its melody on the keys and the way it’s been orchestrated. Though I would not say it was a Bacharach classic and even though this is more up-tempo it’s not exactly going to light any fires. But nevertheless, it’s still very well executed. Lyrically the words are pertaining to the title and it could also be seen as a case of “sink or swim” so to speak.
Track 8. Lost To The Years.
The album ends off with my second favourite track on the album and the melody to this one reminds me of a cross between “Mad Man Moon” and “Visions Of Angels” by Genesis in parts and towards the end we also get a few notes from one of his own two-part songs “Feels Alright“. It’s very much an emotional song that reflects a lot of BEAUTY! and is BEAUTIFULLY! played and sung. It’s also the second longest track on the album and just like the longest track it once again cooks on a low heat with its slow pace and is almost delivered like a sweet lullaby.
It’s a song that comes with caring and meaningful lyrics that pertain to what little time we have on this planet and what we leave behind for those who have yet to come. It also fits in very well with present state the world is in right now and is a wonderful sentiment to end off the album with and another contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!
To sum up The Whispering Of The World by Tiger Moth Tales. I would say that it is very much a different album in that its stripped back and it’s more of a songwriter’s album and less of a PROGMATIC! affair. It’s more of a personal album which is perhaps why it contains material that is suited to both sides of his musical output for his solo career and his project of Tiger Moth Tales. It’s also more of a serious body of work that is more along the lines of the material that was written for In The Depths Of Winter and will appeal to those who like that album in particular.
I have to confess that when I first heard this album was about to finally get finished and released, I was excited and eager to get my hands on it. But when I first heard all the material on it was stripped back and it was less PROGMATIC! I did not have much hope for it and was a bit disappointed at first. Like the album In The Depths Of Winter this is not one of my GOTO! albums from his project though I do think more thought has been put into it and prefer this album over that album of his.
I think the best way I can describe an album like this is like doing the washing up where you are not really keen on doing it until you get your hands in the water and only then you will get some pleasure out of it so to speak. There is a lot of pleasure you can get from this album once you put it on, and you really do have to stick your hands or dip your toe in the water to reap the benefit it has to offer. Once you do it becomes quite a satisfying album and a pleasure to listen to and there is some strong enough material on here that holds it up very well. My personal highlights are as follows: “Taking The Dawn“. “The Whispering Of The World“. “Quiet Night“. “Blackbird” and “Lost To The Years“.
To conclude my review of The Whispering Of The World. I personally don’t think it’s a solid album but there is nothing remotely bad and certainly enough here to make this album worthy of getting your hands on even if it never came with a free DVD of extras as well. Speaking of the DVD there is not really a lot on it that has not been previously put out before but nevertheless it’s comes for free and is a well worthy addition to the package and you are certainly onto a winner regarding its price point.
In many respects even though I myself prefer his previous EP Still Alive over this new album. I cannot deny that some of the written material upon The Whispering Of The World is a lot stronger and in reality it does contain more strength in relation to some of the whimsical humorous side of things. But for me personally it is also the humorous side of things that Pete Jones is also very clever at doing and that is what I miss on this album and on In The Depths Of Winter.
At the end of the day The Whispering Of The World is an album that should appeal to all fans of Pete Jones and his Tiger Moth Tales project alike and it does continue to show his strength as a songwriter which will hopefully bring in more listeners on that strength. It’s an album I can still get a GREAT! deal of pleasure listening to and would still highly recommend. It’s also very well produced and I have nothing but praise for this man’s GREAT! talent and am looking forward to seeing him live once all this pandemic is beyond us.
The Sound Of New Days Yet To Come…
The CD Track Listing is as follows:
01. Taking The Dawn. 5:23.
02. The Whispering Of The World. 5:50.
03. Sweeter Than Wine. 3:32.
04. Quiet Night. 6:56.
05. A Town By The Sea. 4:50.
06. Blackbird. 3:39.
07. Waving, Drowning. 5:59.
08. Lost To The Years. 8:44.
The DVD Track Listing is as follows:
02. Feels Alright.
03. Match Girl.
04. The Ballad of Longshanks John.
07. Taking The Dawn.
08. A Visit to Chigwick.