(4 / 5)
A beautifully packaged – hard back book in Racing Green with each of the 2 discs stuck to the inside cover – double CD retrospective; offering up 25 tracks from top Swedish folksters West Of Eden. The collection also delivers a brand new song written for this package, and a previously unreleased track.
Hailed as ’the best of contemporary folk’, Swedish folk band West Of Eden celebrate 20 years with a compilation album and an anniversary tour. Just outside the mainstream limelight, but with a faithful and growing audience, West Of Eden have carved out their own brand of music with strong influences from British and Irish folk music.
In spite of setbacks, deaths and no less than seven changes of bass players – isn’t it usually the drummers who move on in most bands? – over the course of two decades, the band have released 10 albums and spent countless miles together in the tour bus. Their records have been met with critical acclaim in Sweden and around the world, which has led to collaborations with the likes of US bluegrass legends Alison Krauss & Union Station, Irish icons The Chieftains and Mark Knopfler’s band, among others.
West of Eden are Lars Broman on fiddle, Martin Holmlund on bass, Ola Karlevo on drums and bodhran, Henning Sernhede on guitars and mandolin, Jenny Schaub, vocals and accordion and Martin Schaub acoustic guitar, cittern and vocals.
The new song ”Twenty Years Of Travelling”, written specially for the compilation album, chronicles the struggles and the travels, but above all speaks about the joy in playing together. On ”No Time Like The Past”, West of Eden have also included a new recording of ”Where The Ivy Is Growing”, the first song they ever wrote. They also include the previously unreleased “The Captain’s Daughter”, as the closer to disc two. They also serve up tunes like ”Faraway”, written at the request of music mogul Bert Karlsson, who wanted to send ’something Irish’ to the Eurovision Song Contest – previously unreleased.
And even if West Of Eden like to look backwards, write albums about the Swedish wave of emigration to America in the 19th century and choose to call a retrospective album “No Time Like The Past”, the future looks bright. They have 30+ shows in Sweden after the album’s May 2017 release, followed by a German tour and then for the first time, they will perform in China.
It’s just as Jenny puts it in the new song: ”Onwards, upwards, never back, things to carry, bags to pack, another page is finished in our book, this is not a happy ending, this is not the curtain call, it’s just 20 years of travelling, and I wish for 20 more”.
Something really honest, passionate and unpretentious about this superb band and these excellent songs. A great taster if you do not know their music already, and an essential addition to your collection if you do.
By Simon Redley
(1 / 5) ‘Dull Zone’
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’