Rolling Stone (U.S.) March 23, 1089
Watermark is the second album by the Irish musician Enya, who began her career with the traditional group Clannad and went solo in 1986. Her first U.S. release, Watermark may sound overly subtle at first, but it quickly establishes itself as a rich mood piece of broad proportions.
As evidence of Watermark's broad appeal, both the album and its single "Orinoco Flow" have shot up the U.S. charts – mirroring the album's phenomenal recent success in Europe. The opening, title track sails the listener gently into an ebb-and-flow movement that permeates the album. This simple instrumental leads into the complex "Cursum Perficio" ("Journey's End"), for which producer Nicky Ryan overdubbed up to 100 voice tracks to create a chorus of Latin-chanting Enyas. This distinctive choral effect is also used on "Orinoco Flow" and "The Longships," and its striking harmonies are countered by the exquisite clarity of Enya's solo vocal on the third track, "On Your Shore."
From ethereal plaint to rippling sea chantey, Watermark becomes a glorious aural mosaic. The lyrics, by Roma Ryan, are unornamented but compelling, accentuating the multifarious feel of the album by using Latin, Gaelic and English. The ethnic touches throughout tend to enrich without dominating, as with the Gaelic lyrics on the closing track, "Na Laetha Gael M'Oige."
With its traditional and classical elements and its broad acoustic vocabulary – ranging from Irish uilleann pipes to clarinets and even church organs – Watermark transcends the category of Celtic New Age. It is a tapestry of sound and image to be discovered over time, its evocations ultimately personal, subjective and definitely worth a journey of exploration. (RS 548)
4 out of 5 stars
Note:Transcribed by Book of Days. This might be the first, and last, positive review Rolling Stone ever gave an Enya album.