Eden is a paradise full of joy and happiness. Due west of Eden, you will find the well-produced and arranged original music of this group from Sweden that has developed a personalized signature contemporary folk sound with Celtic and soft rock expression. Lead vocalist Jenny Schaub has silky smooth delivery that immediately enraptures us. This band has abundant talent, and Martin Schaub's singing on "My Kind of Town" is also an aural treat. I'd like to hear him sing more than three on the next album. West of Eden's songs like "Auburn Skies," "The Words I Forgot to Say," "True Believer," "Time," and "Ghost of You" are innovative, imaginative, lyrical, melodic, and inspirational. While often sad or incorporating nostalgic musings, the pensive messages are evocative and thought-provoking.

The band's electric guitar, fiddle, drums, and keys are supplemented with a full string section arranged and conducted by band member and multi-instrumentalist Martin Schaub. The full-bodied robust string ensemble is almost too much on "Immortal," and it might have been nice to include a couple more lean, raw-boned arrangements (without percussion and string section) on "Four" for a little contrast. Sung by Martin, "Could Have Been" appears at track ten, and it is a mellow, reflective composition in this vein. Smart move! Guests also add bass throughout, as well as whistle, banjo, dobro, or sax in spots.

"Four" has very strong material and musicianship that crosses the bridges between genres. While Celtic-based, their vision is simply to present quality music with broad appeal. It's also music to contemplate. Apparently still self-released independently, I would hope that record labels are sitting up and taking notice of West of Eden's musicianship, messages and, I dread to say it, commercial appeal. But that is a bottomline in a cut-throat, ruthless and competitive music industry. They have been together since 1995 and are deserving of a larger audience for their original music. They have a seductive kind of charm. While many of their songs "deal with how time inevitably leaves us behind," I hope that West of Eden's music isn't soon forgotten. At present, their albums can be ordered at cdon.com, tayberry.com, or at westofeden.com.

- Folk and Roots