West of Eden – Next Stop Christmas
Celebrating 25 years as a band Sweden’s West of Eden offers a well-conceived Christmas album & judging from its beautiful CD cover art the music as well, sparkles & is invigorating. The 41-minute set features 15-holiday songs that start off with the percussive “We All Shall Sing Together.” The vocalizing magic is reminiscent of early Sandy Denny & Fairport Convention, Judith Durham & The Seekers, Pentangle, Steeleye Span & Curved Air.
The band effort has solid musical footing throughout as the substantive melodies begin to breeze through the ears. The vocals are pristine & exciting to the point where one is encouraged to sing along. These aren’t all traditional Christmas songs; many are originals with brass & chorale arrangements by producer Martin Schaub (vocals/mandolin/piano/keyboards/acoustic & tenor guitar).
Next Stop Christmas (Dropped Nov 4–West of Music) is available at the sites below. The band has adrenaline to spare in their performances – all energetic, enthusiastic & ear-caressing. The absolutely wonderful toe-tapping title track rocks a little more with Stefan Andersson (considered Sweden’s equivalent to Bruce Springsteen) & the expressive vocals of Jenny Schaub (accordion/tin whistle). The song is decorated generously with illuminating guitars, accordion & fiddle in the most traditional Americana/Celtic manner. Yet we need to pinch ourselves to realize this excellence comes from Sweden. And why not?
This music gives off the holiday scent of burning logs on a fire, hot chocolate with whipped cream, cinnamon & pine & a winter train with white smoke comes down tracks lined with snow on “The Jacobite.” A short Martin Deubler Holmlund interlude before Jenny Schaub’s vocal beautifully traverses “In the Bleak Midwinter” framed in lovely gentle brass.
The set is most encouraging as Christmas music that could refresh your listening since these aren’t all rehashes of decades-old holiday tunes. There are 5 traditional Irish/British Christmas classics. And yet, the originals have the necessary spirit & ambition found in the brilliance of each arrangement & how this tight band just fills the soul with a good feeling.
The entire production is expertly conceived & quite a delightful spirited holiday listen.
Highlights – “We All Shall Sing Together,” “Next Stop Christmas,” “A Perfect Winter’s Morning,” “Over the Hills,” a jaunty “Twelve Days of Christmas,” a pub-Pogues feel of brotherhood on “Must Be Santa” & the beautiful “The Bells of St. Stephen.”
Musicians – Lars Broman (fiddle/viola/bgv), Henning Sernhede (electric/acoustic guitars/banjo/lap steel/bgv), Martin Deubler Holmlund (double bass/electric bass/bgv), Ola Karlevo (drums/Bodhran/Cajon/percussion/bgv) with Steph Geremia (flute), John McCusker (low whistle/fiddle/accordion), Anders Lindstrom (trumpet/cornet), Eva Storholt (French horn), Jakob Storholt (trombone), Hans Olsson (hand clap) & Kristian Karlstedt (tuba).
Choir: Stina Klintbom, Ester Hedlund, Karin Marmander, Magnus Markling, Ola Karlevo, Simon Rubin, Martin & Jenny Schaub.
Color image courtesy of West of Eden website. CD @ Spotify & https://westofeden.com/