Enya – Watermark (1988)

FrontCover1Watermark is an album by the Irish musician Enya, released on 19 September 1988 in the United Kingdom and 10 January 1989 in the United States. Featuring her first major hit, “Orinoco Flow”, Watermark was Enya’s breakthrough album release, and is considered a seminal example of new-age music, although Enya herself does not consider her work to be of that genre. (by wikipedia)

Thanks to its distinct, downright catchy single “Orinoco Flow,” which amusingly referenced both her record-company boss Rob Dickins and co-producer Ross Cullum in the lyrics, Enya’s second album Watermark established her as the unexpected queen of gentle, Celtic-tinged new age music.

RomaRyanTo be sure, her success was as much due to marketing a niche audience in later years equally in love with Yanni and Michael Flatley’s Irish dancing, but Enya’s rarely given a sense of pandering in her work. She does what she does, just as she did before her fame. (Admittedly, avoiding overblown concerts run constantly on PBS hasn’t hurt.) Indeed, the subtlety that characterizes her work at her best dominates Watermark, with the lovely title track, her multi-tracked voice gently swooping among the lead piano, and strings like a softly haunting ghost, as fine an example as any.

Enya2“Orinoco Flow” itself, for all its implicit dramatics, gently charges instead of piling things on, while the organ-led “On Your Shore” feels like a hushed church piece. Elsewhere, meanwhile, Enya lets in a darkness not overly present on The Celts, resulting in work even more appropriate for a moody soundtrack than that album. “Cursum Perficio,” with her steady chanting-via-overdub of the title phrase, gets more sweeping and passionate as the song progresses, matched in slightly calmer results with the equally compelling “The Longships.” “Storms in Africa,” meanwhile, uses drums from Chris Hughes to add to the understated, evocative fire of the song, which certainly lives up to its name. Watermark ends with a fascinating piece, “Na Laetha Geal M’Oige,” where fellow Irish modern/traditional fusion artist Davy Spillane adds a gripping, heartbreaking uilleann pipe solo to the otherwise calm synth-based performance. It’s a perfect combination of timelessness and technology, an appropriate end to this fine album. (by Ned Raggett)

Neil Buckley (clarinet)
Enya (keyboards, vocals)
Chris Hughes (drums, percussion)
Davy Spillane (whistle, uillean pipes)

01. Watermark (Enya) 2.24
02. Cursum Perficio (Enya/Ryan) 4.06
03. On Your Shore (Enya/Ryan)3.59
04. Storms In Africa (Enya/Ryan) 4.03
05. Exile (Enya/Ryan) 4.20
06. Miss Clare Remembers (Enya)1.59
07. Orinoco Flow (Enya/Ryan) 4.25
08. Evening Falls… (Enya/Ryan) 3.46
09. River (Enya) 3.10
10. The Longships (Enya/Ryan) 3.36
11. Na Laetha Geal M’óige (Enya/Ryan) 3.54