Track of the Day: 'So I Could Find My Way'

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Regarding Sophie’s review of Enya’s first album in seven years, a reader confesses:

I like Enya. There, I’ve said it. Back in the ‘90s and early 2000s, when my daughter was little and my now-frail mother was still able to travel, we found that Enya was one of the few current recording artists we could all agree on, and thus she became the soundtrack to some wonderful road trips. I associate her soothing music with some wonderful memories.

Another reader:

Enya isn’t aiming for the higher cognitive centers of our minds. She found a knob for turning down the old animal parts of us where panic and anxiety and fear and anger are generated. Enya is selling musical Prozac. The good news it’s effective, cheap, nonaddictive, and possesses the mildest of side-effects. When we snap out of it after listening to their music for a while, we realize how simplistic and contrived it is. But we like it anyway because our brain stems are soothed.

A superfan delves deep:

Before starting, let me warn that this may lead to confusion.

When I write Enya, I refer to the Aigle Trio, the creative triumvirate behind the concept of Enya; and when I write Eithne, I refer to the person, to the singer-songwriter (as that is her actual name, without phonetic adaptations:)

The real issue is that people tend to think that Enya’s music is meant to be played during moments relaxation and yoga sessions because the melodies that Eithne herself composes and plays have that mystical aura, giving boost to the “soothing” effect that many claim to like in the music she creates, along with Nicky and Roma Ryan. This is plain wrong, in my opinion.

As someone who has been faithfully following her musical record since her breakthrough album Watermark, I have learned two important lessons: prepare myself to patiently wait between releases (taking said time to analyse to death every song they have done up to that point, in order to gladly categorize myself as an Enya fan) and to never give a judgement on a song from the Aigle Trio before having listened to it at least 50 times.

When I have hit the 50 listenings mark, I can elaborate a full-fledged opinion on a track. There are exceptions, clearly. The track “Diamonds On The Water,” from Dark Sky Island, hit me directly in the center of my grown heart as soon as I heard it start, as if the Enya equivalent of Cupid shot an arrow!

The music that we know as Enya’s is just timeless. As I listen repeatedly to “The Celts” today, many will listen to “Echoes In Rain” in, say, 50 years. Why? Because there are still people who are able to properly understand what Eithne, Nicky, and Roma are trying to express and what feelings they want to convey. Enya’s music is so complex compared to any other artist out there. I have bought Adele’s new album and I enjoyed it, but I just cannot compare the work that has been done on 25 to the work that has been done on Dark Sky Island. Three people, working intensely for three long years to deliver such a polished and shiny product ... the music we call Enya is simply too difficult for many to grasp, because of the melodic, lyrical, vocal, instrumental, thematic complexity that this kind of music involves.

You may hear songs about love, others that flow around nature, more that refer to ancient times and cultures, other that engage in reminiscences of the past. It is not something similar to what we hear today, and we did not even hear something like that in the past. In a world were constant up-tempo and wearily repetitive songs about heartbreak (and other topics such as drugs, sex, parties) are considered music, Enya’s music is a breath of fresh air.

And no, it is not because the music is relaxing and soothing, but because it makes us sit down, slow down, stop doing anything we are doing then and reflect. Enya's music is about reflection. Reflection on ourselves, on our emotions and feelings, on our past, present and future, on our journeys, on the people who surround us.

It is not New Age music; it is a style on its own. Inimitable and unique. Even though many will always state that her music is repetitive, it is a problem of those who do not want to listen and see how different each track is. There are differences and a great evolution, but not noticeable for those who only seek easy-to-listen music.

Have a nice everyone! :)

One more reader:

Enya fans might also enjoy Cecile Corbel and Mari Pokinen. Both of those have the added benefit of being in languages Enya fans won’t understand.