West of Eden,
Safe Crossing
(West of Music, 2012)

West of Eden is a prolific group that produces a Celtic sound despite the band's non-Celtic DNA. Over a slew of albums they have produced some stunning tracks that, while newly penned, remind us of a misty ancient tradition.

On their new album, Safe Crossing, the theme is the sea, shipwrecks and the mythology and legends surrounding it all. The 13 tracks open with a familiar title "Haul Away," but there are new words and music, and this sets the tone for the rest of the CD.

Even the track titles will make you either seasick or ruddy-faced and braced for the spray. These include "Bishop Rock," "Waiting for the Storm" and "Wreckers Weather."

Apart from the band's prolific output, West of Eden is renowned for the distinctive voice of Jenny Schaub. I hope the lady of this lovely voice will not be offended, but I would have preferred a little more intermixing of tracks because at times one can have too much of a good thing.

The lyrics on all tracks are strong and captivating and they are set to music that evokes the spirit of the sea in all its moods. In particular, I enjoyed "Green Fields of Clover" and the title track, "Safe Crossing."

Mixed in there with the songs is an instrumental track that has me intrigued. It is the one piece not originating from the Schaubs. The track is "The Scilly Set" and the piece in question is "Poll an Mhadra Uisce." If I am not mistaken, this is the tune for Andy M. Stewart's wonderful song "Take Her in Your Arms." My quandary is which came first.

This musical mystery notwithstanding, Safe Crossing is an album worth seeking out. It is beautifully packaged, too, with a lovely cover and insert.

music review by
Nicky Rossiter

18 February 2012

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