West of Eden,
Songs from Twisting River
(independent, 2014)

West of Eden never fails to amaze me with the quality of the band's writing and performing. Added to this is the band's roots being in a land other than the British Isles or America (specifically, Sweden).

The original works written and performed by them fit seamlessly into the modern folk canon, and on some tracks one could be forgiven for believing the songs are ancient traditional.

From the opening chords of "Fowey River" I defy any true folk lover to be distracted from this set of excellent tracks with the beautifully distinctive voice of Jenny Schaub drawing you into the wonderful lyrics. This is followed by the amusing "Spelling Song," which will intrigue and enthrall.

"Bird of Passage" is one of those new songs that West of Eden brings that, unless we read the cover notes, we might imagine as dating back over centuries. It's a haunting tale of loss that cannot fail to move the careful listener. The fiddles alone will stay with you for days.

They take us back in spirit to long lost childhood days on "Sycamore Bay." The same vein is tapped on "Garden out of Time," but it has a slightly darker and deeper resonance. The band adds some great cream to the mix on the track titled "The Bee That Stung," with the added presence of Kate Rusby as a guest singer. Her voice blends to perfection with Schaub's.

Not getting all the limelight, Jenny give vocal control to Martin Schaub on "Black Boat." On her return with "Tumbleweed," she gets my vote for the best track on offer on this album of great tracks.

West of Eden has suffered some changes in lineup in recent times, and on this set of songs and performances it sounds as if these were for the better, with the band returning to a much more folk-oriented output than on some of their more recent releases. This is a treat for older fans and for those completely new to the band.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Nicky Rossiter

5 July 2014

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