Is it true you ask me, if Pete Jones, the mastermind of the project Tiger Moth Tales, is a busy man? Well, I am beginning to suspect that that is true. This project of Pete existed in 2013 and his debut album Cocoon (see review) saw the light of day in 2014. It was a long concept album with a lot of epics and got a good review. Pete loves deadlines so he invented himself a challenge to create a new album within 28 days. Hopefully that comes all right, some people thought because what is 28 days. And so it happened that in less than one year after releasing the debut album, the second album, Story Tellers Part I (2015, see review), was released. The album was more spontaneous, Pete said, especially not too deep and serious, like Cocoon was. You can notice a lot of humor on this album. After Storytellers, Pete took some more time to write the next concept album, The Depth's Of Winter (2017, see review) of which I had the opportunity to write. As you can read I gave the highest rating and stamped it as a gem. And again, Pete wrote a whole new album within a year after the fantastic The Depth's Of Winter. In that respect he is an unprecedented talent. This time it is the follow up album of Story Tellers Part I, simply called Story Tellers Part II. In the given information Pete tells us the following: like the first Story Tellers, I had so much fun making this album. Compared with the process, with the emphasis on trying out new ideas as they occurred and not over analyzing everything. After I read Pete's words, I became really curious what this album sounds like. In that respect I want to take you as a reader on the musical journey that is called Story Tellers Part II.
Before we go to the music, I want to dwell on the cover of the album. The cover invited me to sit easily and watch to see all the things that come to mind. In the background you see a beautiful sky filled with a few birds. On the front you see a book, the Story Tellers book. The book is overgrown with grass and in the middle stands a tree. We already know the tree because of the previous album, The Depth's Of Winter. A tree, in my opinion, always means 'life with all it's beautiful aspects'. Near the tree you see a compass, giving direction. This compass is to do with the two main characters off the album, Kai and Gerda, who need some direction. The colors used on the cover give a smile to the face and makes me more curious as to how the music sounds.
The album opens with Best Friends, we are taken by Pete to his childhood. While playing outside Kai and Gerda met each other and became good friends. In the music you experience true kindness in the piano and guitar sounds. At the end of the song all goes wrong because the Snow Queen (Pete's wife Kimberley Jones interprets the role of Snow Queen by sampling her voice by a computer) lures Kai away of Gerda. In the music you can hear a transition of peace-loving music in some frightening keyboard sounds and a guitar solo that really entertains you, after which the anxious keys return and takes you to a transition to Kai's Journey, the second song on the album. The song opens with that unique keyboard touch as we are used to hear in Echoes of Pink Floyd, so you are immediately back on the lesson. In fairytale keys and bells the song is moving forward. An enchanting keyboard solo takes you into The Journey. The music comes to mind as if you are floating through the mountains and valleys, searching for Kai, because after all he has been taken away by the Snow Queen. A solo on the cornet, played by guest Mark Wardle, sounds lovely while The Snow Queen speaks her lyrics via computer controlled vocals. A real rollercoaster song for the ears. In the last minute you hear heavy guitars in combination with ear-splitting bells, you observe a kind of duel between good and evil, performed by guitars versus keys, really original.
Toad Of Toad Hall is the next one and opens with a delightful carpet of keys and nice jumping prog. It is about a rich man who is a bit arrogant and thinks nothing can happen to him, but nothing is less true, as you can hear at the end of the song. Keys are the main role in this song and Pete brings it in a cheerful way that makes you smile, again.
Hundred Acre Wood is an instrumental that comprised of clarinet supported by piano, really sensitive and beautiful. This song is the preparatory work for Eternity, which is a ballad in which the voice of Kai is sung by Pete and Gerda's voice is sung by Emma Friend. They sing of how much regret they both have that they are separated from each other by the Snow Queen and how lonely that makes them. After the second verse, Pete takes his guitar in hand and conjures up a beautiful, sensitive guitar solo that expresses how much they miss each other. After this, Pete and Emma join forces in a beautiful duet in which they hope for a common future, after which there is a short guitar solo from Pete, then the song fades, and you wipe a tear.
The Boy Who Cried Wolf deals with a shepherd who has a rather lonely existence and jokes by pretending to be attacked and eaten by a wolf. This part of the song has a somewhat quiet musical character that fits well with the lyrics. A beautiful guitar solo closes this piece of the song and you hear the music stirring up a bit. You hear the sheep worryingly bellow until the shepherd sees a wolf. The end of the song is that the wolf attacks the shepherd. When he screams for help, no one takes him seriously as they think he is joking again. When the shepherd is finally eaten, Pete conjures a splitting solo from his guitar. The song ends with an ode to the shepherd, after which the songs ebbs away.
Three Little Pigs is a funny song full of humor and musical support that absolutely complements the jolly lyrics. Now and then, if you heard the song a bit too often, it could be a bit of a disturbance. However, I can fully understand the humor and always keep a smile on my face. Artful that you can put together a song in this way.
The Palace is an instrumental and the longest track on the album with almost nine minutes. It is richly orchestrated and there is so much happening that its absolutely the highlight of the album. The song is full of guitars and therefore has a main role. But also the keys are an important role in the song and there are beautiful solos. In this song Pete proves that he belongs to the top of contemporary prog, how great can this man grow? Fantastic!
After the great instrumental song you will hear the sad story of the Match Girl. To strengthen the lyrics, Pete made a video for it. Also in this song Pete's singing is fantastic and brings beautiful music. It is a real moving song.
The last track of the album is Best Friends Reprise. Pete and Emma climb in their roles of Kai and Gerda again and sing: until the last rose blooms and dies, we will be friends, Gerda and Kai. All this is supported by orchestral music and another beautiful guitar solo.
Well, there you are as an adult, completely hanging on the lips of Pete as a storyteller. Never dare to dream that it can be a pleasure to listen to fairy tales, supported with blissful prog music that touches you in heart and soul. In terms of theme, this album is by no means comparable with previous album, given how wonderfully you are entertained on this album, it gets the maximum score and that is well deserved. A big compliment to Pete!!
***** Michel Stolk (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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