Enya's self-titled debut was little noticed at the time of release. After the worldwide success of "Watermark" it gained a reissue as "The Celts", as it had been written to accompany the BBC historical documentary of the same name. All her trademark sounds are in this debut. It was those ultra-soft, reverberating vocals and the hundred-layered backing hums, all performed by Enya herself, that defined "ethereal". With the help of producer Nicky Ryan and lyricist Roma Ryan, here she honed a sound that was best when it was fresh. It would come to be endlessly re-hashed on later albums.
Apart from the obvious Gaelic vocal sections and Uilleann pipe solos, its Celtic influences appear in the windy spaciousness of the sound. But it's closer to light classical than traditional folk. Her English vocals are somewhat shy in the crooning ballad "I Want Tomorrow". This song is given a peculiar cross-cultural slant by those choppy synthesizers and a twangy Hank Marvin-style guitar solo. As a TV soundtrack, a lot of it is lightweight and unintrusive. Tunes such as "Fairytale" and "Epona" are ear candy with a nursery rhyme simplicity. But those stark echoing synth leads on "The Celts" and impressionistic electronic twinkles on "Aldebaran" still sound fresh, firmly on the inventive side of New Age.
March 27, 2005