Dark Sky Island is a gorgeous work of art. The songs are teeming with strong bass lines and percussion. Her voice has also become more crystal clear and strong with years. Dark Sky Island is still the style that made her famous but like any works of art it has branched out into other avenues.
I remember this scene from Rebecca. We don’t know who this main character is (played by Joan Fontaine)as she is never named. And Rebecca is never seen all throughout the film. She is telling Maxim about her father:
She: He painted trees.
At least it was one tree.
Maxim:You mean he painted the same
tree over and over again ?
She:Yes. You see, he had a theory that
if you should find one perfect thing…
or place or person,
you should stick to it.
Do you think that’s very silly ?
Maxim: Not at all.
I’m a firm believer in that myself.
And that perfectly sums up the works of Enya.
Enya is also a creative triumvirate between her, Nicky Ryan and Roma Ryan. The husband and wife team are also her long time friends which goes back to the very early 80s when she decided to leave Clannad to pursue a solo career. But you can check that out via Google. My main post is related to the overall sound that she has crafted and, how she also influenced other artists. And you know these artist. You probably say oh, he or she sounds like Enya.
And like the wisdom of Daphne du Maurier, Enya refused to change her style. Instead she builds variations around it but still you know it is her. And the 80, 000,000 fans who bought her albums couldn’t really be wrong.
1.The opening track is called The Humming. ‘The Humming’, a song that muses on the cycle of the universe and how change affects everything. As Nicky recalls: “It began when, after writing the melody line, Enya started humming a small part of the melody. It’s rather appropriate as the title refers to the sound of the early universe which is at around 47 octaves below the lowest note on the piano keyboard. Scientists have compressed this extremely low frequency vibration that the Planck space telescope picked up so that it would be audible to us. It has a humming sound.”-from the press release. I love that part where the chorus breaks with the sweeping choir (the Enya choir is just her voice layered hundreds of times to create that effect. There is no sampling in all Enya albums and also no duplicate layering because according to her, there is that emotional feeling). The chord structure makes this a perfect opening track because it feels like it anticipates something-in this case the songs that follow.
2.So I could Find My Way is a tribute Nicky’s late mom. When Enya lived with the Ryans, Mona took her in , inspired and encouraged her. It is hard for me to listen to this music without getting emotional. It reminds me of those who passed on and how we mourn for the loss. But we also remember how they held us high, how they are ever present in the shadows of our hearts; they are the harbour keep away the sea..so we could find our way.
3.Even in the Shadows is very pop. It is a song about heartbreak but done in an uplifting way. Enya is a master of irony huh? I love the fact that she did not put a solo instrument in the adlib section because if she did, then it would break the atmosphere. And the focus of the music is on the beat and the atmosphere. To someone in Facebook saying she should have done this or that, you have to know she has reasons for doing this.
4. The Forge of the Angels continues her musical excursion into the Loxian realm. Her Loxian songs are distinctive and they have their own sonic style compared to her regular repertoire. The tracks have gorgeous bass lines and percussion. This became apparent in The River Sings (from Amarantine). You know it is Loxian because of that distinctive drone that washes into a line or track. Noticed the almost male voices in the choir? This is still her voice as she does not employ other studio singers. I think as years progress, she is able to explore her lower and upper registers with ease.
5. Echoes in Rain. This is the first track heard universally upon the announcement of the new album. I remember waiting for BBC Radio two one late afternoon just to hear this for the first time. There is that piano solo before the end of of the song. This is the first that Enya. The chorus Alleluia has that hypnotic and infectious appeal. It is all about the happiness you feel when you finally go back home after a long journey.
6. I Could Never Say Goodbye. The intro has a cinematic feel. Again there is that very deep layered voices. Her older recordings sounded misty. This is because they were drenched in reverb. In Dark Sky Island, clarity is at the fore of the production. Her voice sounds heartbreakingly sweet and high in this track. “Time moves in the falling rain…” And even without the words I can visualise it.
7. Dark Sky Island. The title track probably ranks high as fan favourites. The melody is soul-seeping. When the songs hits the second stanza and she starts singing “Boat by boat..” I get goosebumps. Dark Sky Island by the way is inspired by Sark. I read that when you are there you can see stars you could never see in any place in the world because it is free from light and other forms of pollution. Now going back to the track, her voice deeps into a contralto that is very operatic. She sounds like a man. For those saying her voice is weak, I guess you only listened to the intro of her songs and say ‘oh it’s her signature sound again.’ Please don’t do that.
8. Sancta Maria. This is a tribute to the Santa Maria hymn but done the Enya way. It reminds me of the beautiful Renaissance paintings by Florentine artists. Other friends told me it sounds like sunrise. The pulsing bass and the words “Santa Maria’ repeating throughout the song are hypnotic. Yes bring the Botticelli, the Michelangelo and the Raphael!
9. Astra Et Luna. It means Stars and Moon. The synthesiser intro mimics the acoustic guitar sound. This has a Spanish and Italian feel. Her soprano vocal changes from head to chest voice. The marching rhythm is further made exciting by the cello lines and violin pizzicatos.
10. The Loxian Gates. After the Lord of the Rings contribution. Enya and lyricist Roma Ryan decided to record Loxian songs. For the uninitiated, Loxians are fictional race of aliens that inhabit a distant star. The concept was created by Roma Ryan including the written language. The insistent marching beat and space drone are astounding. This is a major achievement in her recording career in terms of structure, melody and sound engineering.
11. Diamonds in the Water. No, Enya is not singing r&b but she has added a bit of that in this tune. At least in the melody. I like the background vocals that sound like they’re underwater. And yes it has a beautiful piano solo. So clear and magical.
The streamed(temporary) album is not the best quality yet. To really hear other sound details in Dark Sky Island, wait for the official release which will be four days from now. It will also be available in vinyl. Hear the stream for free here: http://assets.warnerbrosrecords.co.uk/enya/mail/
– Enya loves to dance and she said she wants to master the Argentinian tango.
-She does pilates.
-She’s a big fan of the Breaking Bad TV series.
-She lives in a castle which she named Manderly after her favourite book and movie Rebecca.
-Her favorite color is purple.
-She is born under the sign of Taurus.