Amarantine (album)

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Amarantine
Enya - Amarantine.jpg
Studio album by Enya
Released 21 November 2005
Recorded September 2003 – 2005
Studio Aigle Studio
(Killiney, County Dublin, Ireland)
Genre New age
Length 45:35
Label
Producer Nicky Ryan
Enya chronology
Only Time – The Collection
(2002)
Amarantine
(2005)
Sounds of the Season: The Enya Holiday Collection
(2006)
Singles from Amarantine
  1. "Amarantine"
    Released: 2 December 2005
  2. "It's in the Rain"
    Released: 2006

Amarantine is the sixth studio album by Irish singer, songwriter and musician Enya, released on 21 November 2005 by Warner Music internationally and on 22 November 2005 by Reprise Records in the United States. Following the release of her compilation box set Only Time – The Collection (2002), Enya took a short break before she started work on a new album in September 2003, her first since A Day Without Rain (2000). Amarantine was recorded in Ireland with her longtime recording partners, arranger and producer Nicky Ryan and his wife, lyricist Roma Ryan. It marks Enya's first album without a song recorded in Gaelic lyrics, and marked her first sung in Japanese and Loxian, a fictional language created by Roma.

Amarantine received mixed reviews from critics, but it was a commercial success, reaching number 8 on the UK Albums Chart and number 6 on the Billboard 200 in the United States, where it sold one million copies in its first month of release. Enya released two singles from the album, "Amarantine" and "It's in the Rain". A Christmas Special Edition was released in 2006. To promote the album, Enya made several interviews and televised performances, including the 2006 World Music Awards. In 2007, the album won Enya her fourth Grammy Award for Best New Age Album. According to Nielsen SoundScan, it is the third top selling new age album of the 2000s in the United States.[1]

Recording and music[edit]

After the release of her box set Only Time – The Collection in November 2002, Enya took several months off from writing, recording, and releasing music. She resumed in September 2003 to start work on Amarantine, her first studio album since her commercially successful 2000 release, A Day Without Rain.[2] She worked with her longtime recording partners, producer and arranger Nicky Ryan and his wife, lyricist Roma Ryan. Recording took place at Aigle Studio, a facility installed at the Ryan's home in Killiney, County Dublin in Ireland. Enya adopted a five-day working schedule to work on the album, working from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and taking weekends off.[3] The album is dedicated to BBC producer Tony McAuley, who commissioned Enya to compose the soundtrack to the 1987 BBC documentary series The Celts which was subsequently released as her debut album, Enya (1987). McAuley died in June 2003.[4]

The album is Enya's first of her career not to include a song sung in Gaelic, her first language.[5] "Amarantine" is a love song, of which its title is a word that Enya said addresses the idea of everlasting and love.[6] Roma had used the word in "Flora's Secret" on A Day Without Rain which in its lyric was spelled "amaranthine".[7] In her notes about the song, Roma wrote the track is "a song of sadness", adding: "for how else can one describe such sorrow? Not knowing where a loved one is, not knowing how they are, not knowing how to find them".[7] The idea of returning home after a long journey is what "Long Long Journey" was written about, and is a theme Enya has covered across her career.[7] The lyrics to "Sumiregusa" were inspired by hokku, the opening stanza to the Japanese form of poetry renga and renku, written by the poet Matsuo Bashō who once felt his heart leap "at the sight of a wild violet".[7] The theme of sadness is revisited once more on "Someone Said Goodbye", a song about one reflecting on life which at times may bring on sad feelings.[7] "A Moment Lost" addresses two ideas: the regretful feeling of words spoken at times of anger by a loved one that leave a mark on one's heart, and a song of love that in turn heals it and forgives.[7] "Drifting" is an instrumental piece that developed from a piano melody, typical of Enya's other instrumental tracks. According to Roma, "Amid Falling Snow" was inspired by a child's amazement of seeing snowfall for the first time, and Christmas time in general.[7]

Amarantine features Enya singing in two new languages for the first time. "Sumiregusa (Wild Violet)" is sung in Japanese, of which its opening bars is taken from an arrangement of the hymn "Hark! The Vesper Hymn is Stealing" by the Irish composer John Andrew Stevenson. The album also marks the creation of Loxian, a fictional language created by Roma Ryan during the development of "Water Shows the Hidden Heart". The track tells the story of a man who is looking "whom he loves and has lost" and the emotions he experiences.[7] Attempts to sing the song with a set of English, Gaelic and Latin lyrics did not provide results strong enough, causing Roma to suggest the idea of a new language, inspired by the fictional Elvish languages by author J. R. R. Tolkien that she had used Enya's song "May It Be" and "Aníron" for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), and the wordless sounds Enya would make while singing to the songs she was working on in the studio.[8] Roma said she created words for Enya's voice so "so the poetry of the lyrics sit on the curves of the music", and initially named it Errakan. The idea was a success, which led its name changed to Loxian and Roma creating a culture and history behind it that concerned the Loxians, a race of another planet who question the existence of life on another.[6][9] Enya took a liking to the language, and sung "Less Than a Pearl" and "The River Sings" in Loxian. Roma described the latter track as a song whereby the Loxians "send their words out into the night ... expressing their quest to discover if they are alone in the universe".[7] In December 2005, Roma released a book about Loxian titled Water Shows the Hidden Heart.

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 55/100[10]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[11]
Billboard mixed[10]
E! Online C[10]
Entertainment.ie 4/5 stars[12]
Entertainment Weekly C[13]
The New York Times unfavorable[14]
Uncut 3/5 stars[10]
USA Today 2.5/4 stars[15]

An album launch party was held on 27 October 2005 at Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte in Maincy, France.[3][6] The album was first released on 21 November 2005 by Warner Music internationally[6][16][17] and on 22 November 2005 by Reprise Records in the United States.[18] In addition to the standard version, a Christmas Special Edition was released on 13 November 2006 that included a second disc of four Christmas songs: "Adeste, Fideles", "The Magic of the Night", "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and "Christmas Secrets".[19] These four tracks were released as an extended play named Sounds of the Season: The Enya Holiday Collection in the United States and Christmas Secrets EP in Canada. A Deluxe Collector's Edition followed on 27 November 2006 that contains the album, the second edition of the book Water Shows the Hidden Heart by Roma Ryan, and three exclusive photos.[20]

The album became a worldwide chart success, reaching its peak of number 8 on the UK Albums Chart during its first week on the chart out of a total 13 week run.[21] and number 6 on the Billboard 200 in the United States during a 33-week stay on the chart.[22] On the Billboard Top New-Age Albums chart, Amarantine spent 38 weeks at number one.[23][24] In November 2008, the album had sold 1,344,593 certified albums in the United States.[25] In September 2004, "Sumiregusa (Wild Violet)" was released as a single in Japan as part of a television advertising campaign for Panasonic.

Amarantine received mixed reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 55, which indicates "mixed or average reviews", based on 7 reviews. Sarah Tomlinson wrote a positive review in The Boston Globe, who thought the album displays Enya's "trademark dreamy elegance".[26] A review from Daniel Durchholz was published in The Washington Post welcomed the use of Japanese and Loxian lyrics as he noted Roma's English lyrics "are often banal", but wrote "What's left is the music's epic sweep and the crystalline beauty of Enya's voice. Neither is insubstantial, nor particularly arresting ... Enya succeeds here in crafting the perfect soundtrack to an evening by the fire".[27] In a review for the Associated Press published in The Daily Herald, Matt Moore wrote that like her previous albums, Amarantine is "haunting and ethereal, with music that undulates in soft, almost shimmering fashion". The songs, he thought, are "a welcome offering of soft yet rhythmic vocals, lush instrumentation and lyrics" which make up a "decidedly satisfying" album that does not break any new ground, but its nonetheless "excels at setting the mood".[28] Jeff Miers in The Buffalo News gave the album three stars out of four, writing the album "Does nothing to modify or update the formula ... Why should it? ... She does what she's good at, which is conjure mystical dream worlds bathed in multitracked vocal harmonies and enough reverb to make Phil Spector nervous". To Miers the songs sound "ancient" in its melodic construction with a sound that he compared to a "Celtic Brian Eno". He concluded with "It's all very beautiful, like the best church music".[29] The album was given a "C+" rating by Christopher Blagg in The Boston Herald.[30]

"Drifting" received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.

Track listing[edit]

All titles composed and performed by Enya, except "Adeste, Fideles" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" (traditional, arr. Enya and Nicky Ryan). All songs produced by Nicky Ryan. All lyrics by Roma Ryan, except "Adeste, Fideles" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".

Amarantine – Standard and Deluxe Collector's Editions
No. Title Length
1. "Less Than a Pearl" 3:44
2. "Amarantine" 3:13
3. "It's in the Rain" 4:08
4. "If I Could Be Where You Are" 4:01
5. "The River Sings" 2:49
6. "Long Long Journey" 3:17
7. "Sumiregusa (Wild Violet)" 4:42
8. "Someone Said Goodbye" 4:02
9. "A Moment Lost" 3:08
10. "Drifting" 4:12
11. "Amid the Falling Snow" 3:38
12. "Water Shows the Hidden Heart" 4:39

Personnel[edit]

Musicians
  • Enya – vocals, instruments
Production
  • Enya – arrangement, mixing
  • Nicky Ryan – production, arrangement, engineering, mixing, conceptual cover design, inner sleeve design and artwork, layout
  • Roma RyanLoxian language and font, lyrics (except "Adeste, Fideles" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas")
  • Dick Beetham – mastering at 360 Mastering, London
  • Daniel Polley – digital technical adviser, engineering
  • Simon Fowler – photography
  • Ebony Ryan – conceptual cover design, inner sleeve design, layout
  • Persia Ryan – inner sleeve artwork
  • Intro – cover and inner sleeve production

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Argentina (CAPIF)[68] Gold 20,000*
Australia (ARIA)[69] Platinum 70,000^
Belgium (BEA)[70] Platinum 50,000*
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[71] Gold 50,000*
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[72] Gold 20,000^
France (SNEP)[73] Platinum 200,000*
Germany (BVMI)[74] 2× Platinum 400,000^
Hungary (MAHASZ)[75] Gold 10,000^
Ireland (IRMA)[76] Platinum 15,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[77] 2× Platinum 500,000^
Mexico (AMPROFON)[78] Gold 50,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[79] Platinum 80,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[80] Platinum 15,000^
Poland (ZPAV)[81] Gold 10,000*
Portugal (AFP)[82] Platinum 20,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[83] Gold 40,000^
Sweden (GLF)[84] Gold 30,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[85] 2× Platinum 80,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[86] Platinum 352,194^
United States (RIAA)[87] Platinum 1,344,593^
Summaries
Europe (IFPI)[88] Platinum 1,000,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label
Worldwide 21 November 2005 Warner Music
United States 22 November 2005 Reprise Records

References[edit]

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Sources

External links[edit]