A Day Without Rain (Reprise 47426)
I think a lot of people will be surprised by Enya's use of hard guitar and looped breakbeats on this album, but I for one embrace the change. Her style has evolved into song structures that are nine and ten minutes long, primarily using feedback and filtered drum patterns to create hellish soundscapes that conjure the most private desperation you will ever hear captured musically. And there are no synthesizers on the album at all, and only one track with any vocals.
Er yes, that's a nice fantasy. Of course, Enya is, as always, the musical equivalent of kava kava, and that's why we like her. A Day Without Rain makes no radical break from her typical approach, just eleven new tracks of layered synths and vocals with ultra-soothing melodies and a vague wistfulness that seemingly everyone connects with, from the staunchest Front 242 fan to the staunchest Andrea Bocelli fan. (Um, I guess I now have to try to find a "staunch" Andrea Bocelli fan.)
Her music is heart music, healing music sometimes seeming deliberately aimed at aromatherapists or whatever the germane thing, though, is that the music is just purely good. You can't really fault her for inventing a transcendent style of music and then not deviating from it.
Sure, I'd love to hear a track with just Enya singing to acoustic guitar accompaniment, no overdubs. But what can you do, it's Enya. You don't open a can of Coke and expect it to taste minty, and you don't buy a Jaguar hoping it will be equipped with a turret gun. Indeed, Enya may be more trademark than art at this point, but hey, even the Mona Lisa is trademarked.
Oh, it isn't? Goddamn it, I knew that so-called "art school" I went to was a sham. For one thing, all the classes were at this guy's apartment, and for another, I never felt comfortable with what he termed "anal art exploration."
Maybe you don't need more than one Enya disc in your collection, and if that's the case, A Day Without Rain would be maybe your third or fourth choice. But every Enya disc has memorable songs worth hearing. The ones on this album actually seem a bit more direct, a bit consumed with loss and goodbyes (or maybe it's my own constant obsession with anything that remotely sounds like someone is talking about a breakup).
"Fallen Embers" and "One By One" are amazing; "Only Time" and "Wild Child" are the relative "singles"; "Pilgrim" is deeply touching and shamelessly self-help; "Tempus Vernum" is the requisite semi-edgy track, and the rest is in the same blissout Celtic space pop that you expect and love from Enya.
One of these days I really will produce that punk rock tribute to Enya that I've been talking about for years, and prove that her songs stand up apart from the soothing aura of reverb and/or the calming space of your massage therapist's office.
What would be the best is if I could get Enya herself to sing on a track, but then again it's quite possible that Enya does not really exist, like V.C. Andrews or the Holocaust.
Review by Bobbi Murcer