The Memory of Trees
Rolling Stone (USA) 25 January 1996
If there were a Grammy for Most Virtuous Recording by an Adult Contemporary Artist, the shoo-in would be The Memory of Trees, the first new album in four years from Enya, the reigning diva of New Age pop. Aside from its environmentally correct title (how could Sting or Don Henley not have thought of this first?) Enya's latest effort offers portraits of nature so worshipful and idealized that heaven and earth seem interchangeable and reflections on love so chaste that Bob Dole would probably find them lacking in spice. But because Enya's lush, synth-laden arrangements rarely come off as bloated or banal, her work typically inspires less ridicule than, say, Yanni's.
A number of songs recall the tranquil radiance of 'Caribbean Blue', the lilting hit single from 1991's Shepherd Moons. On 'China Roses', Enya sings sweetly of the Sappho comet over a backdrop that blends a wash of keyboards with vocal harmonies that ebb and flow like gentle breezes. 'Once You Had Gold' is equally tender, with a reassuring lyric and all the prettiness of a Christmas carol. And regardless of whether or not you understand Latin or Gaelic, the atmospheric warmth of 'Pax Deorum' and 'Athair Ar Neamh' will temporarily convince you that the world isn't such a terrible place after all.
Even the instrumental tracks seem to carry soothing hidden messages, urging listeners to chill out and shift their focus to the beauty that presumably surrounds them. 'Tea-House Moon' could be a jingle for bubble bath or decaffeinated coffee, and the elegant piano chords on 'From Where I Am' evoke a similarly peaceful mood. Enya continues to lull us into a world free of violence, depravity and bad weather where, as she sings on 'Hope Has a Place', "hope is home, and the heart is free." It's a fine place to be for an hour or so, provided you've got some less virtuous music on hand to jolt you back into reality afterward.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Note: Transcribed by Dave Allum .