West of Eden,
A Celtic Christmas
(Zebra Art, 2010)

The Vikings meet the Celts once again, but this time the invasion is musical as the Swedish group West of Eden teams up with a choir and an exceptional female vocalist from an old Irish Viking town to produce a masterpiece of Christmas music that could be enjoyed at any time.

I am very familiar with the output of West of Eden, having been a reviewing fan over the years. This time they manage to amaze me even more than usual with a fantastic change of style. The album is the result of a 2009 concert in Gothenburg.

Opening with a beautiful instrumental piece from the group's Martin Schaub called "A Place by the Tree," the scene is set for a tour de force that must have been magnificent in live performance.

We get two tracks called "The Wexford Carol." The first is a beautiful rendition by West of Eden to their own arrangement. Later on the album Roisin Dempsey, actually from Wexford, is joined by the Haga Motet Choir for another powerful song with the same title. Roisin has performed with a number of top acts in the past and it is great to hear her voice solo for a change. She excels on a lovely version of the carol "Good King Wenceslas" coupled with the tune "Christmas Eve." She is showcased wonderfully on a number of other tracks.

"The Wren in the Furze" shows how marvelously this Swedish group can interpret Irish music. Arranged by Paddy Moloney, at times you could believe you are listening to the Chieftains.

The stand-out track on the album is one that could be a standard like the famous Pogues song if it got enough airplay. The track is "And Then Snow Fell." It is set at Christmas but it a simple love song of losing that bears close attention.

music review by
Nicky Rossiter

11 December 2010

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new