Enya's 2008 Christmas release And Winter Came
is a good, though somewhat uneven, CD of Christmas and winter-themed music. Less new-agey than many of Enya
's albums, it still has a somewhat ethereal feeling, which will please long-time Enya fans, but is also appealing to those who may not be huge fans of Enya's earlier work.
The Great Parts of 'And Winter Came'
Enya has a real touch with very old music. She's got a knack for making it sound modern and new, while still honoring the traditions that birthed it in the first place. The version of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" from And Winter Came
is a perfect example. That song in particular has been evolving since roughly the ninth century, and her intense treatment features her voice, recorded in a way that makes her sound as though she was singing in the apse of a medieval church (hollow and echo-ey, bordering on spooky). It's perfect, and makes an already lovely song (my favorite of all the Christmas carols) even lovelier. The chorale version of "Silent Night" (called "Oiche Chiuin" here, and sung in Irish
) is similarly stunning - respectful of the tradition, but with certain modern touches that make it refreshing and new.
The Less-than-Great Parts of 'And Winter Came'
For every bit of beauty that Enya adds to haunting traditional carols, I have some issues with some of the modern songs that she's included on this CD. "My! My! Time Flies!" sounds like a terrible B-side from a late '70s Linda Ronstadt album - sort of swingy and poppy, with a muted electric guitar solo and a "da da doo da da" chorus. If you're into that sort of thing, it's good. If you're not (and I'm not), it's weird, bordering on annoying. I also don't love "Trains and Winter Rains," which is the song that the record label chose to make a single and video out of (you can watch the video at the Warner Brothers website
). It has a similar unfortunate "seventies pop tossed in a blender with wobbly new age music" sound. It's just not my cup of tea.
The Overall Conclusion
When Enya takes on classic Christmas carols, or classic-sounding modern compositions, the result is incredibly successful. Luckily, And Winter Came is primarily composed of these sorts of songs. There are a few duds on here, though, mostly in the poppier songs. It's still an album worth having, though, as the good definitely outweighs the bad.
'And Winter Came' was released in November of 2008 on Reprise Records.
Playing Time: 44.9 minutes