Sunday, November 27, 2005

Music: Enya • Amarantine

Genre: New age
Released: Nov. 22, 2005


Let's review an important lesson of the 2000s that Enya's handlers apparently didn't pick up on: The new age diva can be a successful singles artist, not just a reliable (but slow to produce) album artist. Three years ago, A Day Without Rain's lead single, "Only Time," ascended to number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, very belatedly giving Enya her first top 10 single. The song had several things going for it, including soundtrack placement and post-Sept. 11 emotions, but the key to its success was a pop radio mix that got her spins at top 40. More recently, Mario Winans scored a massive number two hit with "I Don't Wanna Know," which relies heavily on a sample of "Boadicea" from her first album, The Celts. Not only was the song quite good, it gave us the amusing credit: Mario Winans feat. Enya and P. Diddy. Who knew Celtic divas were so fly? She should be poised for another hit, but I've not heard a trace of the new single on the radio nor seen any press on the new album other than a couple of tepid reviews. The EP of "Amarantine" offers a standard single mix that sounds just like the album version. Where's "Amarantine (So Def Mix)" feat. Slim Thug and Chingy? Barring that, at least a pop mix would seem a wise move, given her recent exposure to younger record buyers/downloaders.

Despite the absence of savvy marketing, the new album is good, even if it treads water artistically and follows a number of well-established patterns. For example, the gently waltzing first single is the second track (hello, "Only Time," "Anywhere Is," and "Caribbean Blue"), and there is exactly one track, "The River Sings," about midway through that pulsates with an electronic groove (hello, "Ebudae"). There's singing in English, and there's
heartfelt emoting in other languages, now including some gibberish called Loxian (hello, every Enya album). Nevertheless, Enya's soothing concoctions are almost always effective, tapping something that can only be called spiritual (and not in a strict religious sense, unless that's what you get from it). Highlights include opener "Less Than a Pearl," which features a signature soaring Enya melody and musically sounds almost like a leftover from The Celts, and "Drifting," a piano-driven instrumental that invites you to do just that. In a world too often lacking kindness, Enya is the most reassuring and comforting of artists, so there will be no complaints from me if she chooses to merely rewrite past successes.

// Other music reviews // Madonna • Confessions on a Dance Floor

1 comment:

Monkey said...

You write really great reviews! Keep up the great job!