NME (UK) 9 November 1991
ENYA - Shepherd Moons
Let's get right down to the serenity-gritty; Enya may not say "let's rock" at any point on this record, but she should not be dismissed as the Gossamer-Winged Princess Of Ambience (Gaelic Branch) who should be confined to the ceilidh chill-out room.
Yes, you can imagine cherubim and seraphim rejoicing to her crystalline refrains (with illustrations by Arthur Rackham), but this is more than just music to soothe the furrowed brow. In an exquisite form of melodic therapy, Enya massages your aura with her gentle layers of sound, pitch- perfect voice wafting on beds of multi-tracked harmony like the heavenly host, her delicate fingertips stroking precise, Satiesque piano lines; lullabying you to death, in fact.
But it's also more than just aural wallpaper; there's a distinct spirituality imbued in Enya's music, an elusive, angelic presence that can be identified as uniquely Irish. No harsh thoughts puncture Enya's world, no jagged shards pierce her tranquil vistas; here are angels rather than devils. There's no sense of loss, more a sense of yearning.
The single, 'Caribbean Blue', seems like a calculated commercial exercise alongside the rest of these tracks, sitting rather jauntily next to traditional airs like 'How Can I Keep From Singing?', with its hymnal refrain and the several Gaelic songs (no translation for Anglo Saxon heathens) full of ghostly harmonies, not to mention the especially fragile 'Angeles', and the stained-glass glow of 'Marble Halls'.
Enya might seem like a distant, untouchable porcelain doll of a thing, but there's a quiet strength and stubborn determination not to compromise lurking under these delicate tunes. It seems extraordinary that she achieves commercial success at all, but admirable that she creates demand for her albums by releasing crossover singles like 'Orinoco Flow' and 'Caribbean Blue', both of which could happily be soundtracks to mineral water adverts. However, they barely prepare the listener for the Gaelic odyssey of her albums.
Light, airy, heavenly, of unearthly delicacy; Enya defines the word ethereal. And, if you think about it, Enya is the Anti-Nirvana; without her, hardcore would not exist. So, if you grow tired of thrash-metal hell, graze in the Elysian fields of Shepherd Moons, and weep. (7)
Note: Transcribed by Peter Warburton and posted to rec.music.newage on November 18, 1991. The (7) at the end is evidently a rating out of ten. For comparison, the highest rated release in this issue was the Cocteau Twins' The Singles Collection with (9)..