Cover: The Memory of Trees

 

Enya: The Memory of Trees

Velvet Vernon

The Music Monitor (USA)

( Reprise )

When I heard the theme of this album was going to center around the power, mystery and wisdom traditionally associated with trees, I was excited. With her New Age/Celtic musical leanings, this seemed like the perfect marriage of idea and artist, so I was surprised when I wasn't impressed with the final product. It made me take a hard look at what, for me, didn't work.

What have we come to expect from an Enya CD? Soft vocals, layered harmonies, atmospheric instrumentation, the occasional Gaelic song or Celtic musical idiom? Well, if that's what comes to your mind, you'll probably like her new release. In fact, the disc's problem may be that it all seems a bit too formulaic; so much of what is here sounds like what has gone before.

She does throw in other ethnic flavorings on two of the songs, the Japanese sounding instrumental track "Tea House Moon" and "La Soņadora," which she sings in Spanish (or perhaps it's Italian, I can't quite make it out). "Pax Deorum" begins with Latin chanting in lower register monotones, then it flowers into harmony and then octave song chant. "Athair Ar Neamh," the one Gaelic song included on this release, is by far one of my favorites, recalling her Watermark direction, while the title track sounds more in the vein of Shepherd Moon. "Anywhere Is," the first single, is an uptempo tune with undertones of a marching beat and a very catchy melodic chorus, while the final track on the album, "On My Way Home," culminates it nicely with its moderate walking tempo which builds gradually in intensity as she goes home noticing the magic of the everyday world around her.

So the problem is...what? The lyrics are solid and the production is fine. Maybe it's just that, overall, the tracks sound better individually, where they can each shine, rather than as a whole, where they tend to merge together into something that's mediocre. It took a few listenings to fully appreciate everything, but I do like it. So give it a try, even though you may want to do it one "memory" at a time.