Enya

The Memory of Trees

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No surprises here, of course -- Enya didn't achieve new age superstardom by challenging anyone's expectations. This album is every bit as hushed, lovely, and soulless as everything else she's ever done; like a perfect angel food cake, it's sweet, soft, and utterly lacking in nutritive substance. There's nothing the matter with angel food cake, of course, and there's also nothing really the matter with The Memory of Trees, though its Druidic theme does smell awfully trendy (nothing was quite so hip as neopaganism in 1995), and it steers so strictly the same melodic and textural course she's been following throughout her solo career that you're tempted to wonder why anyone would want to spend the money on what amounts to a complete rehash of her earlier work. While other cultural influences play a greater part in this album, the beautiful and brooding Celtic melodies she brought with her from her earlier work with Clannad are still the primary raw materials, and her skillful use of them is still the main thing that sets her apart from the new age pack. She also has a truly lovely voice, and there's no point trying to resist the gentle charm of "China Roses" and the incantatory power of "Anywhere Is." But so little of the album lives up to the promise of these and one or two other tracks that it's hard to recommend it very enthusiastically.

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