There are some artists whose sounds remains constant throughout their entire careers. While many fans seem to find that regularity comforting, when it comes to Enya, her new album comes off as old songs with a “new” sticker slapped on them.
Enya was born into a musical family in Gweedore, County Donegal, Ireland. Her father was part of a popular Irish band and her mother dabbled in music as well. It wasn’t until her siblings came together with her uncle to form the band Clannad in 1976, and Enya joined the band in 1979, that she began to delve into her own musical talents. She stayed with the band for a few years, playing keyboard, but left in 1982 to make her own album. By 1986, she had done a soundtrack for a BBC TV show that jump-started her solo career.
Since then, Enya has worked strenuously, releasing album after album. Her first true solo success was Watermark, which surprised some when it became popular in Britain, especially with hit “Orinoco Flow.” She followed up Watermarkwith four more albums and a greatest-hits album that featured two new songs. She also contributed to the score of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, which helped to further her success in the United States.
Her newest album, Amarantine, is almost like a compilation album, with sounds similar to her previous albums. There are the harmonic sounds of her voice mixed with the plunky sounds of the guitar. Her voice is fluid and solid but it hasn’t changed much over the years and shows no improvement. There are many tracks on the album that recall her other songs and it makes one wonder if the only thing truly new is the lyrics, which can sometimes be hard to understand.
The first track on the album, “Less than Pearl,” makes her voice seem symphonic and harmonious. It is beautifully combined with gentle chords being hit on the piano and the faint sounds of a harp being plucked in the background. Her voice is layered to sound as though there are many different women singing, but it adds an operatic quality to the tune. The words are not in English, few of the tracks of this album are, but even though it is hard to understand the song still carries you away on the sounds of her flowy and almost whispering voice.
“Long, Long Journey” is slow and more guitar-oriented. Her voice is strong and resonates over the guitar, violin and piano. As she sings “Come on a journey to darkness / long, long way to go” her voice is again layered on top of itself to give an enveloping feeling as though she is all around you and at the same time stationary. The drums, while soft in the background, sound like a marching line set. When mixed with the chorus, though, the drums give the tune more flair and compliment the other instruments well. The violin is deep and resounding throughout the entire track giving it a melancholy but beautiful feel.
The song “It’s the Rain” utilizes the piano more and is complimented by the harpsichord. Her voice is high pitched on this track but it shows that Enya does have a command over her voice. When Eyna sings “Every time the rain falls down / close my eyes and listen / I can hear the lonesome sound of the sky as it cries” her voice is quite possibly more clear than on any of her other songs. The chorus again employs her patented voice-layering technique, but the piano recedes into the background to be replaced wonderfully and melodically by a violin, which compliments the wispy sound of her voice.
Overall, the album is enjoyable to listen to but it brings nothing new to the table. Enya has once again shown that she is talented, but fails to show any new progress. Her voice flows well with the instruments that she has chosen but her sounds and melodies have all been heard before. This album is not a testament to Enya, but rather a collection of her old songs with a slightly different twist.
The Badger Herald: Meredith Dietrich | November 30, 2005