edens-bridge-first-leafEden's Bridge is back, showing what it means to be white as snow.

The Winter Sings EP
Artist: Eden's Bridge
Label: Independent
Length: 5 tracks/22:40 minutes

For the first time in seven years Eden's Bridge is back with their original lineup. After recording New Celtic Worship (2005), a one-off project for Maranatha! Music, the band took a break. To my dismay, it looked like they might not record again.

What joy to learn that The Winter Sings is the first of four EPs, each representing a different season of the year, to be released in 2011. Plus, the band is at work on a brand new studio recording to be released in 2012. To hear Eden's Bridge tell it, this is the best writing that they have ever done. That's how it all started, a trio of songwriters in 1993 deciding to take the next step.

They are on sure footing with The Winter Sings. They capture the feel of winter while retaining their familiar sound, a mix of Celtic, pop, rock, worship, and improvisation along with Sarah Lacy Bird's lovely voice. Some music, like the title track, builds like a steady snowfall before it quietly subsides. On "Northern Dawn" you can almost the feel chill of winter with the lonely opening sounds.

Some past releases were praise and worship oriented. Here the band continues to grow as artists both lyrically and musically. The spiritual element is here but it's subtle. On "White" the covering of snow becomes a metaphor for the forgiveness of sins: "My eyes are searching an expanse of floor / But there is no trace of what has gone before." This is the most buoyant track and my personal favorite.

Those who appreciate poetry will find this rewarding. The writing is consistently beautiful:

"It is the way of all things / That the sap that lifts / The leaves into the light will see them fly."

Even when the tone is somber, there is a ray of hope. Three tracks refer to a child: "And the Winter sings a diff'rent song / Of a small child and beginnings." It's something that you can miss if not listening carefully. The lyrics are not included in the packaging but can be found at www.edensbridge.net.

"The Herald Angels" is much more obvious. This is the familiar Charles Wesley hymn with a new arrangement. Some people might not like a new melody, but this works for me. It takes something that is overly familiar and makes it new.

This closes with "The Difference." With just piano and vocals, and stately lyrics and melody, it has the feel of a hymn.

The CD is hand-numbered and packaged in DVD-sized cardboard with original artwork. Three cards show the days for January through March. It's a collector's item, but the best reason to have this is the strong return for Eden's Bridge.

Michael Dalton