14 Songs, 54 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

In the time that’s passed since 2007’s Christmas-themed And Winter Came, Enya’s influence has made itself heard in a new generation of female artists—from Julia Holter’s classically informed art-pop to the hallucinogenic melodies of Grimes. On Dark Sky Island, the new age icon returns with a set of lush, synth-lined reveries as melodic and mesmeric as anything she’s recorded since her strangely ubiquitous 1988 debut, Watermark. While its gorgeous title track is layered with her singular brand of yawning vocal harmonies and gossamer strings, “The Loxian Gate” is an anthem sung in Loxian—a fictional language invented just for her.  

EDITORS’ NOTES

In the time that’s passed since 2007’s Christmas-themed And Winter Came, Enya’s influence has made itself heard in a new generation of female artists—from Julia Holter’s classically informed art-pop to the hallucinogenic melodies of Grimes. On Dark Sky Island, the new age icon returns with a set of lush, synth-lined reveries as melodic and mesmeric as anything she’s recorded since her strangely ubiquitous 1988 debut, Watermark. While its gorgeous title track is layered with her singular brand of yawning vocal harmonies and gossamer strings, “The Loxian Gate” is an anthem sung in Loxian—a fictional language invented just for her.  

TITLE TIME

Ratings and Reviews

4.8 out of 5
475 Ratings
475 Ratings
JMPrater

In Defense of Enya’s New Single, 'Echoes In Rain.'

In Defense of Enya’s New Single, 'Echoes In Rain.'

Like so many people, (and like a crazy person) I woke up at 3:23 am this morning to listen to Enya’s latest single, Echoes In Rain, broadcasting from the UK. After 7 years, in complete silence, I was ready. When the song began, it was almost like shock took over. I didn’t know what to think of anything. I listened, checked around Facebook and Enya’s official forum, Unity to see what people were saying. Not much. It was early still.

I woke up again later and listened to the song via Enya’s official YouTube channel. Still, no reaction. I wasn’t sure if I was insanely tired, or if it was the fault of the music. I was however being messaged through Facebook of my reaction to the track. I didn’t know. I didn’t know how to feel. The only thing I was sure of, I had to listen to this new song over my regular and amazing speakers. Eventually, I was able to. I liked it. I didn’t love it. I liked it.

During this time I am getting into heavier conversation with longtime friends, and fellow Enya fans. I’m being asked again, what are my thoughts. I say ‘I like it’ taking great care not to use the term ‘love.’ I didn’t love it, not yet. I had an appointment later in the day, and I set up the song on my phone to play through my incredible car speakers. The moment it began, I started falling in love. Never before had I heard Enya’s vocals so clearly. There are many elements of the track that are familiar, and at the very same time, everything sounded new.

Echoes In Rain is a response to Orinoco Flow. It's a song that marks the end of a journey, as Orinoco Flow marks the beginning. It’s a full circle track, with elements and ideas we’ve heard in songs past. I listened to Echoes In Rain about 6 times, turned up as loudly as I could take it. By the time I arrived home from my appointment, I was fully in love with this sound.

There are criticisms about the track, that it’s the same old Enya, nothing new. I completely disagree. I have never heard this Enya before. I’ve never listened to such clarity of melody, such pristine multi-vocals. Echoes In Rain needs a patient listener. I am not one to fall in love with something because everyone else has. I’m a slow burn.

Echoes In Rain deserves a good listen, as many times as possible. While perhaps loud drums would have serviced portions of the song to more dynamic effect, Echoes In Rain is a singularity, a triumph of sonic wonder, a conjured spell that only Enya can create.

Before I leave you…I must turn attention to the lyrics. If there’s anything that stands out as ‘something new’ it’s Roma Ryan’s (Enya’s lyricist) words. Instead of the usual ‘stars, chimes, moons, and midnights’ Roma has chosen from a new group which have been invigorated by Enya’s simple, yet lofty melody, and Nicky Ryan’s perfect arrangement.

JM Prater

Diachenko

Finally!

7 years is too long to have to wait for a new Enya album, but it's finally here next month! Can't wait to hear the entire thing. I'm loving the single.

Sleepthief

On equal footing with WATERMARK

I have been a fan of Enya since the release of her very first album (self-titled ENYA and later renamed THE CELTS). I have always considered her to be one of the best female singers of our time and certainly she is one of the few popular artists in the last century that has created an entirely unqiue sound and a genre all her own. Enya's music has deeply influenced my own songwriting and apparently many other singers and artists. She is one of the few artists that I actually get sort of geeky and fan-boy about. Having said that, I think that Enya's turn toward a neo-classical sound as first evidenced on the album "A Day Without Rain" was a little less appealing. Not that Enya's ever written a "bad" song--but I preferred her more world/Celtic vibe than the marcato and pizz string plucking that took over her sound on ADWR. "Amarantine" was a a great album and showed somewhat of a return to her more "tribal" vibe. "And Winter Came..." was also beautiful (if seasonally-based). However, I think that "Dark Sky Island" represents some of her strongest material (both musically and vocally) in quite a while. While Enya has retained her core sound (intensely layered vocals and familiar instrumentation and tempos), there are some welcome surprises that show Enya has matured as a writer and singer. For example, THE HUMMING recalls BOADICEA with a dark-tone and mysterious quality. I love the use of the men's choir at the beggining of I COULD NEVER SAY GOODBYE (which, by the way, is pretty heart-rending and genuinely packed with emotion).The title track, DARK SKY ISLAND is impressive in that Enya sings a vocalise in a very low register that we've never heard before. SANCTE MARIA is fabulous--and may be my favorite track on the albun. It is reminiscent of Vangelis' 1492 soundtrack. Incredible vocal textures and the mood it creates is soaring--plus Enya sings in a register that almost sounds like a boys' choir. THE LOXIAN GATES is another standout, recalling EBUDAE (from Shepherd Moons) with huge drums and chanting. I would definitely recommend the deluxe version of this album because the 3 bonus tracks are superb. In fact, PALE GRASS BLUE (a song about the Asian butterfly of the same name) is a close contender for best track--it has beautiful syncopated vocal phrasings and a whimiscal and charming quality. For fans of ADWR, there is ASTRA ET LUNA which sound quite a bit like WILD CHILD. In sum, the 7 year hiatus obviously agreed with Enya. She once again proves why she is in a class uniquely her own. Fans should really appreciate all of the work (1000s of vocals and harmonies) that went into the making of this album. Big props to Nicky Ryan (producer) and Roman Ryan (lyricist) for their work as well.

About Enya

With her blend of folk melodies, synthesized backdrops, and classical motifs, Enya created a distinctive style that more closely resembled new age than the folk and Celtic music that provided her initial influences. Enya is from Gweedore, County Donegal, Ireland, which she left in 1980 to join the Irish band Clannad, the group that already featured her older brothers and sisters. She stayed with Clannad for two years, then left, hooking up with producer Nicky Ryan and lyricist Roma Ryan, with whom she recorded film and television scores. The result was a successful album of TV music for the BBC. Enya then recorded Watermark (1988), which featured her distinctive, flowing music and multi-overdubbed trancelike singing; the album sold eight million copies worldwide. Watermark established Enya as an international star and launched a successful career that has continued into the new millennium.

Enya (born Eithne Ní Bhraonáin) was born into a musical family. Her father, Leo Brennan, was the leader of the Slieve Foy Band, a popular Irish show band; her mother was an amateur musician. Most important to Enya's career were her siblings, who formed Clannad in 1970 with several of their uncles. Enya joined the band as a keyboardist in 1980 and contributed to several of the group's popular television soundtracks. In 1982, she left Clannad, claiming that she was uninterested in following the pop direction the group had begun to pursue. Within a few years, she was commissioned, along with producer/arranger Nicky Ryan and lyricist Roma Ryan, to provide the score for a BBC-TV series called The Celts. The soundtrack was released in 1986 as her eponymous solo album.

Enya didn't receive much notice, but Enya and the Ryans' second effort, Watermark, became a surprise hit upon its release in 1988. Enya spent the years following the success of Watermark rather quietly; her most notable appearance was a cameo on Sinéad O'Connor's I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got. She finally released Shepherd Moons, her follow-up to Watermark, in 1991. Shepherd Moons was even more successful than its predecessor, eventually selling over ten million copies worldwide; it entered the U.S. charts at number 17 and remained in the Top 200 for almost four years.

Again, Enya was slow to follow up on the success of Shepherd Moons, spending nearly four years working on her fourth album. The record, entitled Memory of Trees, was released in December 1995. Memory of Trees entered the U.S. charts at number nine and sold over two million copies within its first year of release. In 1997 came the release of a greatest-hits collection, Paint the Sky with Stars: The Best of Enya, which featured two new songs. Enya's first album of new material in five years, Day Without Rain, was released in late 2000. In 2001, she contributed material to the first film in Peter Jackson's award-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy, scoring a hit with the single "May It Be." Amarantine, her first full-length recording since Day Without Rain, followed in November 2005. A holiday EP, Christmas Secrets, arrived in 2006, followed by an all new, full-length collection of original seasonal music called And Winter Came in 2008.

Her second greatest-hits collection, The Very Best of Enya, was released in 2009, though it would be another six years until her next album arrived. "Echoes in Rain," the first of two singles from Enya's eighth album, appeared in September 2015, and the normally reclusive star opened up for a number of interviews and was promoted heavily on social media for the first time. Created with longtime collaborators Roma and Nicky Ryan, Dark Sky Island was released in November of that year. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & William Ruhlmann

HOMETOWN
Gaoth Dobhair, Donegal, Ireland
GENRE
New Age
BORN
May 17, 1961

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