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Luley, Johannes: Tales From Sheepfather's Grove

Many will remember Johannes Luley as guitarist & founding member of the progressive rock band Moth Vellum, who took the genre by storm 5 years ago with their well-received debut album. Sadly, that band broke up back in 2010, but Luley has emerged with a mighty fine solo album here in 2013 titled Tales From Sheepfather's Grove. Once you get a look at the exquisite cover art by Harout Demirchyan (no doubt influenced by Roger Dean) you just know you are going to be in for a wealth of '70s inspired prog.

For the most part, that is indeed the case. Luley handles all the lead vocals (save for some guest female backing vocals), guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion, and plenty of other assorted instruments. Much of the album is lush and pastoral in nature, reminding of the more folky material of Yes and Genesis, and especially some of Jon Anderson's solo albums, as Luley's vocals have a hint of Anderson to them and the feel of the album reminds of some of the Yes legends early releases. If you love the acoustic side of progressive rock, you'll just adore tracks like "Stab the Sea" and "Moments", each one brimming with soft vocals and layers of acoustic guitars, as well as bright, catchy melodies. The backing vocals of Sianna Lyons, Robin Hathaway, and Kristina Sattler need to be recognized here; these three have contributed some lovely vocal passages that just melt with Luley's delivery, making for a wonderful overall presentation on many of these songs. In addition to the gorgeous vocal arrangements, Luley has crafted some enchanting music on Tales From Sheepfather's Grove, with "The Fleeting World" perhaps being one of my favorites, as he delivers some lush classical guitar melodies that would make any fan of Steve Howe smile. In addition, "Atheos Spiritualis" is also quite remarkable, complete with soothing keyboard orchestrations and soaring melodies, making for a nice mini-suite of breathtaking music.

If there is a downside to Tales From Sheepfather's Grove, it's that I would have liked to hear some more upbeat songs where Luley kicked things up a notch. Much of the album is a little one-note as far as the pacing is concerned, with many of the tempos very similar. The lack of drums also hindered that a bit, as the tribal feel to the album works only up to a point, and I for one would have certainly liked to hear more of Luley's wonderful electric guitar work, which is only heard fleetingly in spots. Otherwise, this is a very fine, and very lovely album from the former Moth Vellum guitarist, a release that will surely please any fan of '70s prog-rock that leans towards the folky side. Nicely done!

Track Listing
1) Stab the Sea
2) Guardians of Time
3) Moments
4) Give and Take
5) The Fleeting World
6) We Are One
7) Atheos Spiritualis
8) Voya

Added: January 31st 2013
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 4444
Language: english

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