Thursday, December 18, 2008

Enya: And Winter Came ...

And Winter Came ... bringing sleep to the cold lands.

I recently received Enya's new CD from Gather and with it, a wonderful night's sleep. Enya's music has always been a great sleep inducer for me. Her new winter themed album features icy treatments of new compositions and arrangements of some traditional songs.

It was a struggle to stay awake and listen to the complete album the first time, even in the early evening. As it was the next morning and afternoon as I played it again a second and third time. For me, Enya is music to sleep by or fall to sleep by. No, it's not bad music, it is music, orchestration and vocals that just lulls me to sleep in one and a half songs. For over 20 years Enya's music has had this effect. Enya is best listened to in radio-mode or shuffled on your mp3 player to intersperse her songs amongst more rousing tunes. One should not drive with Enya exclusively playing on the stereo.

Enya is very much a solo performer, writing and arranging most of her music and then performing both the instrumentation and vocals, rarely incorporating other musicians or singers into her process. On "And Winter Came ...", Enya's wispy ethereal vocals invokes an icy cold soundscape that matches the mostly white-on-white album cover scene. The CD arrived in the midst of a record breaking cold spell which only added to its chilliness.

The opening album namesake the instrumental track "And Winter Came ..." fades into "Journey of the Angels" which is almost the same song but with vocals. "White Is in the Winter Night" picks up the pace with a light marching tempo. "Trains and Winter Rains", another promoted track on Enya's website along with Winter Night, is an Enya composition with a more catchy melody and chorus that might be a major hit in the hands of another producer and pop artist using less orchestration. Enya breaks into a more mainstream pop sound with "My! My! Time Flies!" and is helped along by the rare appearance of another musician, Pat Farrel, lending a couple choice electric guitar rifts and with understated orchestra backing gives this song a Fab Four feeling.

Much of Enya's music has a soundtrack kind of feel to it. She makes good background music for a scene. This should not be a surprise as her initial success as a solo artist came from providing background music for movies. One of her biggest audiences would come from her music featured in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

Considering the season, I most enjoyed Enya's arrangements of old hymns or carols. Presenting "Qíche Chiúín, the original French hymn we know as Silent Night, with full choir backing her. My favourite song on the And Winter Came ... album is her rendition of the traditional carol O come, O come, Emmanuel. This is Enya at her trademark etherness and is a most pleasant performance of this traditional and familiar Christmas carol.

If you are an Enya fan, you will of course enjoy this seasonal album. Other folks will most likely appreciate Enya's treatment of the Christmas carols and find another song or two they like on the And Winter Came ... album.


And Winter Came...
And Winter Came...Last Time by Moonlight
Journey of the AngelsOne Toy Soldier
White Is in the Winter NightStars and Midnight Blue
O Come, O Come, EmmanuelThe Spirit of Christmas Past
Trains and Winter RainsMy! My! Time Flies!
Dreams Are More PreciousOíche Chiúin (Chorale)

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