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5 star review by Kev Rowland of Feedback, contributor to ProgArchives and Silhobbit.com - January 22nd 2013

In December I heard from Moth Vellum founder and guitarist Johannes Luley who asked if I would be interested in hearing his new solo album. A short while later and I was staring at the incredible artwork from Harout Demirchyan and I felt that I had been transported back to the Seventies – but would the music pass the test? Well, I had nothing to worry about on that score. Johannes provides all of the instruments himself (apart from a concert harp played by Stephanie Bennett) and uses three singers, Robin Hathaway, Kristina Sattler and Sianna Lyons, and the results is nothing short of stunning.

It is as if Jon Anderson has again joined with Vangelis, but without the wall of keyboards, and instead it feels much more 'real' and containing lots of space and depth. In many ways it is extremely complex, yet comes across in a simple manner. It is not music that can be played in the background as it may just disappear, but greatly rewards those who have the time to spare just to listen to the music as an end in itself. Electric guitar is used for emphasis as opposed to always being a central pillar, with plenty of room for mandolin and acoustic instruments. Instead of programmed drums or even a normal drumkit, Johannes has instead opted for handheld percussion which gives a very different feel to the norm and this builds to a climax in "Give and Take".

This is one of the most beautiful prog albums I have ever had the pleasure to listen to, and I am sure that when 2013 comes to a close that this will be on many people's Top 10's. I know it will be on mine.


3 1/2 star review by Peter Pardo (Sea of Tranquility) - January 31st 2013


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!


Review by Marc Roy on ProgGnosis.com - February 5th 2013

After listening a number of times to Tales From Sheepfather's Grove, I am quite impressed with what I hear.

In my opinion, there is an obvious reference to be made with this album and it is to Jon Anderson's solo work and also some of his collaborations with Vangelis. To a lesser extent, the softer parts of Yes' Tales From Topographic Oceans (with it's lush keyboards and acoustic guitar) also comes to my mind. Everything on this excellent CD reminds me of Jon Anderson, not just the music, but also the vibe, the singing, the lyrics.

This being said, the compositions are very original. Not once am I reminded of a perticular Anderson piece. Also, the songs are not just original, they are very very good. In fact, the 8 tracks on this CD (most with singing and a few instrumentals) are far better than anything I have recently heard by Jon Anderson, and musically much more interesting (Luley's guitar playing shows flashes of Steve Howe on many occasions). Finally, I am very much impressed that this album is a solo project by Johannes Luley (he only has a few guests singers with him and a harpist).

If you enjoy Jon Anderson's musical universe Tales From Sheepfather's Grove is certainly a must have for you. Allan Parson's Eye in the Sky is another album that can give an idea of what to expect from this excellent record. Great stuff! Highly recommended.