A Day Without Rain
WHSmith (United Kingdom) December 2000
Picture the scene. It’s a gusty, salty dusk near the end of a cold Galway autumn. The distant chiming of a fisherman’s buoy, pealing in concert with the swelling sea, drifts across the bay like a half-remembered hymn. Light streams from the door of a nearby pub, the sounds of clinking glasses and laughter tumbling drunkenly in its wake to be silenced by the cold, sober scorn of the North Atlantic roar.
A girl is silhouetted in the glow, the wind whipping fiery ringlets across her face as she wraps a shawl across her pale shoulders. She gazes into the failing half-light, and finds a solitary speck moving slowly towards the distant mountains: a cart, its sole occupant staring fixedly ahead, hunched against the cold. As the speck finally disappears in the blue-grey of the twilight, a single tear rolls down her cheek, and merges in salty sympathy with the spray from the rolling, black ocean.
Well done, folks – that was a test. If you made it to the end of the previous paragraph without losing your lunch, there’s a distinct possibility that you belong to a very rare breed indeed: people who don’t mind admitting that they own an Enya album.
Enya, the aforementioned willowy Irish songstrel, has made a career for herself over the last ten years or so producing the sort of floaty, ethereal Celtic mood music favoured by sandalwood-scented social workers with children called Merlin and semi-detached Volvo owners showing off their new hi-fi to the neighbours. As lush as Wicklow pasture, as rich as Kerry butter, as predictable as Ian Paisley and as authentic as a plastic shillelagh, Enya returns with her latest offering A Day Without Rain, another instalment of her now-familiar synthesiser-drenched breathiness, and the world quakes with a resounding chorus of narcolepsy.
To be fair, it’s not that this album isn’t well made – it is. The problem stems from the fact that you can only listen to the same album so many times before your serene smile distorts into rigor mortis, and Enya has made this album many, many times before. If you remember "Orinoco Flow" or "Storms In Africa"… nuff said. If you’ve been trying very hard to forget them, my sincere apologies.
The usual suspects are all in evidence: plodding, string-driven backing tracks, wistful keyboards all over the place and enough vocal harmonies to give Queen a funny turn. The songs themselves are familiar archetypes, too – either the obligatory threatening Latin chant ("Tempus Vernum" in this case) or the incomprehensible, rambling romantic travelogue (everything else).
That said, this is a quality production. Several years in the making (and tweaking), the overall result is a huge, suffocating pillow of harmony – magnificent for fleeting moments, but ultimately clumsy.
Trouble is, I can’t help feeling I’ve heard it all before… done with considerably more flair. Some distant cousins of Enya’s, a promising folk combo by the name of Clannad, had a fair stab at this sort of stuff around seventeen (count ‘em) years ago, but the delicate web of Celtic harmony woven by Clannad was built on the solid foundations of the traditional Irish music they had grown up with – in other words, they were never scared to bash the odd bodhran.
Enya, on the other hand, should be pictured in the dictionary under the word "precious". Her record company’s insistence on marketing her as the Celine Dion of the peat bogs is becoming intensely irritating, and charging the full CD price for 37 minutes of this stuff prompted this reviewer to check it wasn’t April the first.
It’d be better on a video, you know. With some dolphins.
Note: Transcribed by Troman.