Enya: The Memory of Trees (Reprise)
Gary Graff, Journal Music Writer
Detroit Journal (USA) 27 December 1995
Enya gets more out of a sigh than anyone since Vivian Leigh. That's good, since there are lots of sighs on Enya albums; they're layered between verses, under melodies, through the ends of songs.
Let's face it: Enya just isn't the "Gabba Gabba Hey!" type. "The Memory of Trees" - the Irish musician's first new release in four years - is of a piece with her earlier work. It's lush and ethereal, blending elements of both New Age and world musics, including tracks sung in Gaelic and Spanish. Soothing? You betcha. Boring? Well, yeah, it's that, too.
There's no question Enya's sound is unique; her 1988 smash "Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)" remains as distinctive a hit as you'll hear on the radio. But like many artist in the assorted ambient music camps, she's limited by stylistic sensibilities. The arrangements are purposefully airy, the instrumentation frequently droning and synthetic; it's true sonic relief when an actual piano, organ or guitar pops out of the mix. "The Memory of Trees" - which Enya recorded with her standard team of producer Nicky Ryan and his wife, lyricist Roma Ryan - is more about intellect than passion.
That's made all the more frustrating by a pair of particularly strong melodies that don't seem fully realized. The first single. "Anywhere Is," wraps a boppy pop tune in a swirl of synthesizers, timpani and other percussion. "On My Way Home," which closes the album, has a buoyant, plucky quality that cries for a techno-pop outfit like Erasure to give it the propulsion it deserves.
For now, though, we have "The Memory of the Trees" - and the knowledge that Enya is, if nothing else, consistent. She may only surface every three of four years, but we can rest assured that she won't sound too different.
Note: Transcribed by Edelmiro García.