Shepherd Moons

A press release from Reprise Records
on the U.S. release of Shepherd Moons

Reprise Records (USA) November 1991

It is like nothing so much as a cathedral of sound, an all-enveloping choral tide that sweeps over the listener, taking us to faraway places. It is music so unique that only the name of its creator suffices to describe it: Enya.

With her 1988 debut album, Watermark, the music of Enya was discovered by a worldwide audience. The LP sold a phenomenal four million copies internationally, while its stunning single, 'Orinoco Flow/Sail Away', went to No. 1 in virtually every country with a popular music chart.

Now, with the release of her long-awaited new offering, Shepherd Moons, Enya returns to once again delight, challenge and mesmerize us. Here is a haunting, evocative work that truly belongs to the global village.

Yet it is also music very much rooted in a time and place. A native of Donegal County, Enya was raised in one of the last bastions of the Gaelic language in Ireland. Her grandfather was a school teacher from the tiny island of Tory. The island is also the point of origin of Enya's name, borrowed from that of a local goddess. Her family insisted that Gaelic be spoken at home resulting in Enya's lifelong love of the lilting language, which is heard on some of the songs on Shepherd Moons.

Enya's professional musical career was launched in the early Eighties when she began working with Nicky Ryan and Roma Ryan, who became her producer and lyricist respectively. It was Nicky and Roma who encouraged the young singer to step out on her own as a performer and songwriter with Roma sending some of Enya's early output to various film producers. The first to respond was David Puttnam, who commissioned Enya to compose the soundtrack for his 1985 feature, The Frog Prince.

Enya was subsequently asked to compose a piece for a BBC-TV series titled The Celts. The original concept behind the program was to have a different composer score each segment, but after hearing Enya's offering, an original composition titled 'The March Of The Celts', they immediately asked her to provide music for the entire series. The results, released as an album, gave the first real indication of Enya's wide-ranging appeal and eventually resulted in a major label recording contract and the release of the above mentioned Watermark.

The album's extraordinary success catapulted Enya into the ranks of world class artists virtually overnight. Music from Watermark was eventually heard in the hit films L.A. Story and Green Card. Suddenly, it seemed, Enya was everyone's favorite new artist.

Yet, withstanding all the pressure for a quick follow-up, Enya and her longtime creative collaborators, the Ryans, brought with them the same time, care and loving attention when they returned to Nicky's home studio in Ireland to begin work on a new album.

It is a process that begins, as always, when Enya writes melodies, with arranging help from Nicky. The music next goes to Roma, who pens the lyrics in English and works with Enya to decide which will be translated and performed in Gaelic. Only then can the exacting work of recording really commence.

Because Enya and Nicky insist on all vocals being recorded live to capture subtle nuances not possible through electronic enhancement, the intricate harmonies of the music require untold hours in the studio, with Enya singing up to two hundred separate vocal parts. Small wonder that Shepherd Moons took over eighteen months of studio time to perfect.

The result is more than worth the wait. From the elegant quick-step waltz of 'Caribbean Blue', Enya's latest single, to the stirring Shaker air, 'How Can I Keep from Singing?', to the melancholy beauty of the title track, Shepherd Moons is an album that reminds us how music, heartfelt and hearth-warmed, really can make the world, and out lives in it, better, more beautiful and, for at least the moment, at peace.

Note: Transcribed by Dave Allum from a copy provided by Steven Holiday.