Ireland’s best selling solo musician, Enya, is back with a new album: Dark Sky Island. Not only is Enya one of Ireland’s greatest treasures, but also one of the best selling artist of all time, with a cool 80 million album sales worldwide over her career spanning nearly 4 decades.
This is quintessential Enya for the old fan or new listener. Her first outing in five years brings everything you would expect from an Enya album. This album is one of her better works overall; it’s songs are sharp and well groomed, and her prowess within the style she’s single-handedly created shines in this masterful work.
Unfortunately, it is not very rhythmically diverse, with many tracks reminding me vaguely of one or another track from her vast library of work. Enya has made an auditory space for herself in the world of music, and she is the absolute queen of that space. That being said there is not a ton of innovation happening in this particular space. This isn’t a bad thing entirely. Listening to Dark Sky Island is like slipping into a familiar, silky robe of sound.
The opening track “The Humming…” is wonderful and emotionally charged. Enya’s vocals seem just a touch less polished by over-production on this album than some past efforts, which is a good thing. Her voice is amazing by itself, and the realness of it comes through on many of the tracks here.
“Even in the Shadows” is one of the more upbeat tracks on the album, if you can call it upbeat. The pulsing rhythm almost makes you want to bob your head, if one can “head bob” to Enya. I actually attempted to head bob to this and was doing good, but it required a few beers.
The title track is a dreamy excursion that seems to transport one to another place and time, so much so that despite listening to it multiple times I cannot remember how it ends, because I find myself in a daydream that continues through the next few tracks. The daydream finally breaks at “The Loxian Gate”, a powerful track that demands attention from the listener with its stomping beat and ethereal vocals.
The final track, “Diamonds On The Water” brings the tempo back down and showcases Enya’s powerful voice with a sparse musical arrangement. This seems a perfect closing track, a nice book end for another chapter of Enya.
One interesting fact about Enya is that despite being one of the world’s greatest selling musical artists, she has never done a concert. She has performed for various events and presentations live, but never done an actual concert or tour.
Dark Sky Island is a triumphant return for the reigning queen of new age, although she would probably cringe at being called “new age” music. When asked what genre she would classify her music as belonging to, she would simply reply, “Enya”.