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Enya’s New Triumph

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Here I’m going to give a presentation of how reviewers and fans have commented and rated the long-awaited new album by Enya; Dark Sky Island, released in November last year. I’m also going to take a look at how the album is doing in terms  of streaming and CD sales. All I can say is that I’m sure Enya is very happy with how people have reacted to her new album. 4,7/5 stars on Amazon is nothing short of a triumph!

dark sky islandFew believed that Enya would release anything in 2015 – but I did. Dark Sky Island is Enya’s eight studio album, released on Aigle & Warner Music. The album is inspired by Sark, a tiny island 80 miles off the South Coast, UK. Here cars are banned and a total lack of street lighting make conditions perfect for stargazing.

We start off at AllMusic, where Timothy Monger gives Dark Sky Island a strong 4 star rating. He says:

Since the release of her 1986 debut, changes in her overall approach have been subtle and critics have often derided her for her unwavering dedication to dated, late-’80s synth patches and her reliance on formulaic methods, but Enya’s consistency is actually one of her greatest assets. […]

“The Humming,” with its eerie staccato swing and mystical musings on the cycles of the universe, is one of the strongest tracks she’s produced in decades and resembles a dark cousin to 1991’s masterwork “Caribbean Blue”.

While it would be unfair to call Dark Sky Island a throwback, it does manage to harness some of the power and creativity of Enya’s early days and pairs it with both the confidence and shadows of age.

Jon Pareles/New York Times writes:

Only change is here to stay,” Enya sings in “The Humming,” a song about geological cycles of creation and disintegration that opens her new album, “Dark Sky Island.” But constancy, not change, is what Enya’s music provides. On “Dark Sky Island,” as always, Enya offers plush serenity and the familiarity of sounds she has been using since her 1988 album, “Watermark.”

She sings in her feathery voice amid orchestras of sampled strings, stolid keyboard arpeggios and choirs of her overdubbed vocals. She’s eternally consonant, bringing melodies that are steeped in hymn, lullaby, waltz, Baroque opera and Celtic tradition, all radiating a free-floating reverence.

Brad Nelson/Pitchfork writes:

Dark Sky Island is Enya’s first album in five years, and it’s her best since 1995’s The Memory of Trees. Her songs feel sharper than they have in a long time: the textures are glassier, the ballads heartbreaking. […]

Its textures are glassier; the individual sampled string hits on “Echoes in Rain” sound like arthritic branches sprouting from a frozen earth. The ballads are heartbreaking. “I Could Never Say Goodbye” and “So I Could Find My Way” describe an incredible distance that can’t be collapsed; in the case of “So I Could Find My Way”, that distance is the vastness between life and death. […]

Helen Brown/The Telegraph writes:

The melodies are lovely, if conservative: as elegant and classically tailored as her gowns. Roma’s lyrics are all vague, yearning fantasies of celestial seas and prophesy, designed for consumption in centrally heated and wall‑to-wall carpeted rooms. […]

Enya’s metronomic beats get soporific – one song is called The Humming and as Enya runs out of words and hums along you fear she might nod off herself.

That said, I put the album on last night, lit a few candles and took an hour off from worrying about the state of the world while my children sat at the table, drawing steadily and quietly. Corny and clunky it may be. But Enya’s starry spell still works. […]

The Guardian/Michael Cragg is not that positive – but all in all OK with the album, giving it 3/5 stars:

Since her 1987 debut, Ireland’s enigmatic new-age megastar Enya has shifted 80m albums of gently bubbling, multilayered ethereal pop. Needless to say, her ninth album, and first for seven years, doesn’t exactly mess with the tried and tested formula […]

In fact, the first half is full of pockets of gently unfurling prettiness, which makes the meandering and repetitive second half all the more disappointing, the nadir being The Loxian Gate’s wordless nonsense. Overall though, this is a surprisingly enjoyable trip to another world.[…]

So all in all the professional critics have been happy with Dark Sky Island. But what about ordinary listeners? Out of 395 reviews on Amazon (as of writing), 83 % have awarded her a 5 star rating! To quote S. M. Lauer: “This album has a beautiful, unique, consistent musical and emotional vision. I love it! ” You can see the reviews here.

The album has done very well in terms of CD sales; best position on Billboard was no. 8, and no. 4 on the UK Chart. The streaming numbers from Spotify are also great reading; so far (23 March 2016) the tracks on Dark Sky Island have had about 20 million playbacks. But it also might indicate that her audience still is more record buying than streaming…

Dark Sky Island is truly a worthy comeback.

Also be sure to check out this video: