Enya makes lovely music that sometimes you're just in the mood to hear. It has a certain pop flavor to it which makes it more palatable than lots of new age and Celtic music. And although it draws from many sources, the sound is original.

Information: Enya
Suggested first purchase/album: Watermark
Suggested best of: Paint the Sky with Stars

The Frog Prince (1985) -- Not exactly the Enya we've grown to know and love, this album is mostly cheesy keyboard music with "Jenny" and "Dreams" as standouts (though even they are sub-par). Enya isn't to blame for this since it's only a movie soundtrack and not a proper album, but let this serve as a warning. Only for the curious. D

The Celts (1987) -- This album was originally released as Enya, but as it was a soundtrack to the documentary The Celts, it received that title when it was re-released. The only difference in that version, however (aside from cover art), is a slightly-different version of the song "Portrait," so I didn't feel I needed the reissue. The music is good, but only an indication of greater things to come. B

Watermark (1988) -- The first proper album by Enya sets the standard for the rest of the albums with beautiful melodies, lovely instruments, and about a zillion layers of Enya's voice. The hit single "Orinoco Flow" isn't even one of the highlights of this album, even though it's a great track. B

Shepherd Moons (1991) -- This album follows much of the same pattern set by Watermark, but is darker, softer, and slower (just compare album covers to get the idea). Though this album was even more successful, it may be just a touch not as good--if for no other reason than that Watermark did what was good about it first. B

The Memory of Trees (1995) -- Nothing new is ventured on this album (except perhaps the over-happy "Anywhere Is"), but I still think it's perhaps the best of them all simply because it culls together the best of everything so far. It seems to realize that it's doing this, even quoting musical phrases from Watermark for the end of the album. I would rather have a solid collection of standard material than a new direction that might prove a disaster (in Enya's case anyway). B

Paint the Sky with Stars: The Best of Enya (1997) -- I haven't technically heard this album, but I've heard the two new songs from it (one's pretty good, one's sort of dull) and, of course, all the old songs. Looking at the list of songs, it seems to cover the ones people will remember from the radio ("Orinoco Flow," "Caribbean Blue, "Book of Days," etc.). The order looks kind of goofy, seeming to lack any real flow, but there isn't a bad song in the bunch. It would work well for someone who just wants one good Enya album that features all the favorites; but if you're listening to Enya for the mood, then you're just as well to buy one of the regular albums and and go from there. B

A Day Without Rain (2000) -- The cover art, the album and song titles, the multi-layered sound, the pretty background music... everything from the other Enya albums is here, only this time there's absolutely nothing new and it's only 34 minutes long. Does it make me disappointed? A bit. I said in The Memory of Trees that I liked it because it was a good culmination, but on this one, it's like a toss-off. And after a five year wait. The most interesting thing about this album was the radio version of "Only Time (with thumping drums) that became one of Enya's most mainstream hits. B

Amarantine (2005) -- By this point we're used to the five year wait (who needs more Enya albums than that anyway?), but this time it was more worth it since some subtle newness is added.  The opening track ("Less Than a Pearl") gives the best indication of that, with more "husky" layering of oohs and ahhs, something also found in "Sumiregusa."  Some of the poppier elements are found in songs like "Amarantine" and "Someone Said Goodbye."  Twenty years of beauty. B

Copyright (c) Jul 2000 - Dec 2005 by Rusty Likes Music