Album cover: Watermark

 

Enya - Watermark

Bill Henderson, Sentinel staff

Orlando Sentinel (USA) 22 January 1989

--  Watermark  -- 

(****) Enya, Watermark (Geffen): Delicate. That adjective describes the melodies of Enya, an Irish musician who treats her voice as an instrument, overdubbing herself until she becomes a self-contained choir. Her art becomes the sum of its parts - as light as a whisper, yet as strong as a scream.

With two exceptions, Enya (christened Eithne Ni Bhraonain) plays all the instruments and does all the vocals on Watermark. Her stint with the Irish folk group Clannad taught her how to use the studio - to get sound that is a cross between a female Gregorian chant and a synthesiser. She employs many of the same methods as the New Age vocalist Claire Hammil, who uses nothing but her synthesized voice.

Enya, however, is a much better singer. Her material reminds one of traditional Irish folk tunes, but she adds twists that give the songs a worldly sound. Whether she is singing in Gaelic or English, her themes shine through.

"On Your Shore" is a love poem about a past not easily forgotten. Enya's daydreamy trips to her homeland cause listeners to recall homes they have left behind. It's a bittersweet journey.

Enya may delve into folk and traditional harmonies, but that doesn't mean she can't get commercial. Her single "Orinoco Flow" is as catchy as anything on radio today. She sings of global travel while her overdubbed harmonizing urges her on: "Sail away, sail away, sail away."

Enya's instrumental songs are simple and pleasant musical ideas but are overshadowed by the strength of her more fully realized vocalworks. Her singing is so strong that it is painfully obvious when she isn't singing.

Then there is "Na Laetha Geal M'oige," one of the most beautiful melodies recorded by anyone recently. Enya s breezy voice flows around subtle synthesizers, bridged by a mournful Irish piper. Although the lyrics are Gaelic, they are sung with such conviction and warmth that translations aren't necessary.

Enya is a hard-to-label artist. Although some of her work is New Age, her singing demands attention. You can't ignore her voice regardless of volume

The fact that this is a digital recording only heightens the ambiance she brings to the compact disc. Her every breath becomes an instrument that adds to her vocal orchestra. Watermark is more than an album of songs: It is a work of art.



Note: Transcribed by Tomás Román.