Review – Tiger Moth Tales – The Turning Of The World – by John Wenlock-Smith

This October sees the release of this latest album from Tiger Moth Tales which is, of course, the moniker under which multi-instrumentalist Peter Jones operates and releases his own music. Peter is a highly respected and regarded musician who also fronts Red Bazar as keyboardist and vocalist while also doing the same for Cyan and, more recently, Camel. He is also a member of Francis Dunnery’s It Bites and, in addition, Peter also has a dedicated following and has performed several Mothster parties as warm ups to Big Big Train shows (usually in London at venues near to where the BBT shows are taking place.)

All this is pretty remarkable, especially when you consider that Peter is totally blind and yet still strives to create new music, usually labouring by multi-tracking and mixing using an old 8-track recorder. His music really is a labour of love for him, it must take him a long time to get the sounds he envisages in his mind on tape when recording, but this he does and then shares these fruits of his labours with the world.

‘The Turning Of The World’ follows a different tack to earlier Tiger Moth Tales‘ albums in that it was composed mostly on acoustic guitar and, whilst this lends a softer tone to proceedings, it is abundantly clear who it is performing this music such is the uniqueness of Peter’s voice and the sound is easily recognisable as  a Tiger Moth Tales release.  

For this album Peter is in a fairly upbeat mood and it is clear that Peter, once again, is in a happy place and this comes across in the more personal, and even intimate, songs about friendships, family, love and life, several of which are autobiographical in their lyrics.

Proceedings commences with a short scene-setting instrumental, The Getaway, that  represents the madness, discord and overall business of the modern world in which we live in a post-covid age. The album’s first proper song, per se, is The Turning Of The World which concerns itself with Peter’s fear that, with the world being in the state it is, revolution is on the cards, although whether Peter’s fears are justified or merely baseless is as yet unknown. Peter is concerned about how a victory would look and how its winners would behave, this song makes good use of a melodica to make the song sound plaintive. This is in complete contrast, in terms of emotions, to So Wonderful To Be Alive, which is a composite of childhood memories that Peter holds dear. This song name-checks his grandparents fondly and the adventures they shared together, it also talks of Peter’s teenage years. The track is hinged on a fine acoustic riff, played with the style and progresses onto Peter’s memories of a very happy wedding day with his wife, Kimberly. He sings with real love, gratitude and fondness for her presence in his life. This is followed by the albums longest track, The Snail, The Horse And The River, which concerns itself with using nature to look at how you are feeling. This is possibly mindfulness in practice as Peter says it represents three instances where looking at nature really helped his mood. The first was as a child when a beloved pet had died and Peter felt a Snail moving beneath his fingers helped him to be able to move onward. The second was an interaction with a horse. Peter has a timbre that has tones of Peter Gabriel, his voice is rich, warm, gentle and mellow, it is quite remarkable in fact, there is also good use of a zither alongside the melodica.

Try is about perseverance, resilience or, as we used to call it, gumption! The ability to keep trying and carry carrying on with something, this is a clarion call to keep trying and is a lesson we can all learn from, I think! We’ll Remember is a song that is written about the unexpected and sudden death of David Longdon of Big Big Train with whom Peter recorded a version of Spectral Morning that was recorded in 2015 in aid of The Parkinson’s Society. When the sad news of David’s death was announced, Peter wrote this song in response and, to help him work out his emotions, he bought in Rob Reed and Christina Booth of Magenta to assist him in this touching tribute. Pass It On has another taste of the smooth sound and is again based of his memories of people who have passed on. This song mentions some of those folk, and how we should pass on the kindnesses we have received to others. The Good People Of Munchwald recalls the positive memories that Peter has of a house concert that he was invited to play at in Muchwald in Germany and the friends he made and excellent hospitality that he and his wife received whilst there.

You reached for My Hand is a very personal song, one that details the time that Peter’s father was in hospital and held his hand for support. Thankfully his father made a full recovery but this tender song recounts that time. The Lock Keeper is  ostentatiously about a lock keeper but, in actuality, it is about The March Of Progress and how, in that quest, skills are being lost, never to be replaced and how this, in effect, can make the world a poorer place as a result. It’s very interesting and realistic song that really makes good use of that softer toned. The track has a lively sax and melodica section to it but, for me the song doesn’t really go anywhere special. This is definitely not the case with the last song of the album, All I Need Today, which begins with open guitar chords and sounds not unlike Genesis’ more acoustic moments. The track has underlying keyboards and what sounds like a clarinet but is actually the returning melodica playing and makes for a very full sound. It is a warm song and Peter expresses how his wife and marriage help him to realise the good things he has in his life, in part because of her presence. It is a positive and touching note on which the album concludes.

This is a very different type of Tiger Moth Tales‘ album but its deep subject matter and its thoughtful words and sentiments are actually very worthy and act as a good counterpoint to the downbeat ‘Whispering Of The Wind’ of 2020. Whilst this album has some darker songs there is a prevailing sense of gratitude and warmth within and around these songs, which are a bit more direct emotionally.

It is good to hear Peter singing these songs as, from the heart, this emotionally direct approach pays rich dividends here indeed. I’m pretty sure that Peter’s next album will see him return to the style we have come to know and love but for now he asks us to embrace this different and yet deeply compelling album. Different? Yes, Enjoyable still? Definitely! Embrace it now, I think you will enjoy it if you do.

Released 6th October, 2023.

Pre-order the album from White Knight Records here:

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