Shepherd Moons

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This article is about the album by Enya. For the astronomical bodies, see Shepherd moon.
Shepherd Moons
Studio album by Enya
Released 4 November 1991
Recorded 1989–1991
Studio Aigle Studios
(Artane, Dublin, Ireland)
SARM West Studios
(London, England)
Length 43:09
Producer Nicky Ryan
Enya chronology
Shepherd Moons
The Celts
Singles from Shepherd Moons
  1. "Caribbean Blue"
    Released: November 1991
  2. "How Can I Keep from Singing?"
    Released: 1991
  3. "Book of Days"
    Released: July 1992
  4. "Marble Halls"
    Released: 1994

Shepherd Moons is the third studio album by Irish singer, songwriter and musician Enya, released on 4 November 1991 by Warner Music internationally and 19 November 1991 by Reprise Records in the United States. After the unexpected critical and commercial success of her previous album Watermark in 1988, Enya embarked on a worldwide promotional tour to support it. At its conclusion, she proceeded to write and rehearse new material for her next album with her long time recording partners, manager, arranger and producer Nicky Ryan and his wife, lyricist Roma Ryan. The album was recorded in Ireland and London and continued to display Enya's sound of multi-tracked vocals with keyboards and elements of Celtic and New age music, though Enya believes her music does not belong in the latter genre.

Shepherd Moons received mostly positive reviews from critics and became a greater commercial success than Watermark. It went to number one on the UK Albums Chart and peaked at number seventeen on the Billboard 200 in the United States. The album was certified multi-platinum by the British Phonographic Industry and Recording Industry Association of America for shipments of 1.2 million and five million copies, respectively. Between 1991 and 1994, Enya released four singles from Shepherd Moons: "Caribbean Blue", "How Can I Keep from Singing?", "Book of Days", which charted at number ten in the United Kingdom, and "Marble Halls". As with Watermark, Enya supported the album with a worldwide promotional tour. In 1993, the album won Enya a Grammy Award for Best New Age Album, the first of four she has won in her career. It was reissued in 1992 and 2009; the latter for Japan with several bonus tracks.[1]


In May 1989, Enya began to wrap up her worldwide promotional tour to support her second studio album, Watermark, which began when it was released in September 1988. The album became an unexpected success around the world, helped by its international top-ten hit single, "Orinoco Flow", propelling Enya's fame.[2] At the tour's conclusion, Enya started to write and rehearse new material for her next album. Initially she felt pressured as the success of Watermark made her repeatedly think, "Would this have gone on Watermark? Is it as good?'" She soon realised that she had to "forget about this and start on a blank canvas and just really go with what felt right."[3] Her attitude also changed, noting "The difference between [Watermark] and Shepherd Moons is that I've mellowed".[4] Working with Enya were her long time recording partners, manager, producer and arranger Nicky Ryan and his wife, lyricist Roma Ryan.

Recording and production[edit]

The album was recorded with new equipment purchased with the profits from Watermark.[5] Recording began at Aigle Studios, the recording studio in the Ryan's home, then located in Artane, a northern suburb of Dublin. As with her two previous albums, production had to relocate to a London studio as the Aigle facility lacked the correct equipment to complete the final mix and mastering. For Shepherd Moons, Enya and Nicky finished the album at SARM West Studios with additional engineering and mixing duties carried out by Gregg Jackman.[6]

In some parts on the album, Enya recorded 500 layered voices without sampling or replication. When the melody to a song was completed, Roma Ryan would write lyrics to it.[3]

Writer Molly Burke wrote about the album's artwork: "The cover of Shepherd Moons features Enya in what can only be described as an opera gown she could be twenty or forty but her delicate beauty is intact. There is a sense of timelessness here bathed in the dark but fragile blue of sorrow".[7]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Like on Watermark, Enya sings in English, Gaelic, her first language, and Latin.[7] Enya wrote songs based on several ideas, including her personal diaries and her grandparents.[8] "Evacuee" was written after Enya saw a BBC documentary about a child evacuated from London during World War II. Two tracks are traditional songs that were rearranged by Enya and Nicky.[6] "How Can I Keep from Singing?" is a Shaker hymn and "Marble Halls" is an aria from the 1843 opera The Bohemian Girl by Irish composer Michael William Balfe.[7] "Smaointe..." translates into English as "thoughts". The song refers to the story of a large tidal wave destroying the church, and everyone inside it, at the same location where her grandparents are buried, at a graveyard by the beach in County Donegal. The theme of loss, something that Enya depicted in Watermark and Shepherd Moons, stemmed from her leaving home at age eleven to attend a strict boarding school. She added, "the feeling was devastating".[7]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[9]
Chicago Tribune 2.5/4 stars[10]
Entertainment Weekly B (1992)[11]
A− (1993)[12]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 2.5/5 stars[13]

Shepherd Moons was released in the UK in November 1991; it was released in North America under Reprise Records. It was a commercial success, reaching number one on the UK Albums Chart for one week.[14] It peaked the US Billboard 200 at No. 17 in the US.[15] In the US, the album sold over 250,000 copies in its first week.[3] By July 1994, the album had sold 7 million copies worldwide.[16]

Four tracks were released as singles; "Caribbean Blue" was the most successful and peaked at No. 13 in the UK singles chart. The others were "How Can I Keep from Singing?", "Book of Days", and "Marble Halls", released in 1994 after it appeared in the 1993 film The Age of Innocence.

Shepherd Moons received generally positive reviews from music critics. In his review for The Washington Post, reviewer Mike Joyce praised Enya's vocals as "impressive" and "crystalline" that bring "unmistakable poignancy to much of the album". However, the tracks that focus on her piano playing, like "No Holly for Miss Quinn" and "Shepherd Moons", make the album "succumb to the usual new age doldrums".[17] Barbara Jaeger gave a positive review for The Record. The three-year gap between Watermark and Shepherd Moons, she wrote, was "worth it" as the album, like its predecessor, contains "rich sonic tapestries that envelop the listener" that brings a "lush, semi-New Age instrumental atmosphere" that is "only part of the inviting package". She picks "Angeles" and "Caribbean Blue" as highlight tracks along with her Gaelic singing.[18] In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Ned Raggett rated the album four-and-a-half stars out of five.[9]

In 1993, Enya was awarded a Grammy Award for Best New Age Album for Shepherd Moons. She also won a IFPI Platinum European Award, a Billboard Music Award, and a National Association of Recording Merchandisers Award for Best Selling Album.[19]

Track listing[edit]

All music composed by Enya, except "How Can I Keep from Singing?" and "Marble Halls" trad. arranged by Enya and Nicky Ryan. All lyrics by Roma Ryan.[6]

No. Title Length
1. "Shepherd Moons"   3:42
2. "Caribbean Blue"   3:58
3. "How Can I Keep from Singing?"   4:23
4. "Ebudæ"   1:54
5. "Angeles"   3:57
6. "No Holly for Miss Quinn"   2:40
7. "Book of Days[a]"   2:32
8. "Evacuee"   3:50
9. "Lothlórien"   2:08
10. "Marble Halls"   3:53
11. "Afer Ventus"   4:05
12. "Smaointe..."   6:07


Credits are adapted from the 1991 CD liner notes.[6]

  • Nicky Ryan – producer, arranger, recording engineer (all other tracks), recording and mixing on "Ebudæ"
  • Gregg Jackman – mixing engineer, recording engineer on "How Can I Keep from Singing?", "Book of Days" and "Lothlórien"
  • Robin Barclay – assistant engineer
  • David Scheinmann – photography
  • The New Renaissance – wardrobe
  • EMI Songs Ltd. – publisher
  • Rob Dickins – executive producer

Chart performance[edit]


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Argentina (CAPIF)[37] 3× Platinum 180,000*
Australia (ARIA)[38] 3× Platinum 210,000^
Belgium (BEA)[39] 2× Platinum 100,000*
Brazil (ABPD)[40] Platinum 250,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[41] 3× Platinum 300,000^
France (SNEP)[42] Gold 100,000*
Germany (BVMI)[43] Gold 250,000^
Ireland (IRMA)[44] Platinum 15,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[45] Gold 100,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[46] 2× Platinum 200,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[47] Platinum 15,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[48] 5× Platinum 500,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[49] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[50] 4× Platinum 1,200,000^
United States (RIAA)[51] 5× Platinum 5,000,000^
Worldwide 13,000,000[52]

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


  1. ^ Early editions of Shepherd Moons included a version of "Book of Days" with Gaelic lyrics. Later editions feature a version in English that was originally recorded for the soundtrack to Far and Away (1992).
  1. ^
  2. ^ Brennan, Enya; Ryan, Roma (December 1989). "Around the World in 300 Days". Hot Press. Retrieved 5 January 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c Sullivan, Jim (4 December 1991). "Enigmatic Enya moves ahead with new album Shepherd Moons". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2 January 2016. 
  4. ^ Jackson, Joe (26 October 1991). "Shepherd Moons Rise over the Watermark". Irish Times. Retrieved 2 January 2016. 
  5. ^ Applefeld, Catherine (2 January 1992). "Enya faces music through feelings". Billboard. Retrieved 2 January 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c d Anon. (1991). Shepherd Moons (CD liner notes). Enya. Warner Music. 9031 75572 2. 
  7. ^ a b c d Burke, Molly McAnally (31 October 1991). "I Hear The Angels Sing". Hot Press. Retrieved 2 January 2016. 
  8. ^ Dilberto, John (February 1992). "Enya". Jazziz. Retrieved 5 January 2016. 
  9. ^ a b Raggett, Ned. Shepherd Moons at AllMusic. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  10. ^ Chicago Tribune review
  11. ^ Entertainment Weekly review 1
  12. ^ Entertainment Weekly review 2
  13. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Christian Hoard (2004). The Rolling Stone Album Guide. New York City, New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 280. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  14. ^ a b "Enya - Artists - Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 28 January 2014.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "UKchart" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  15. ^ a b Raggett, Ned. Shepherd Moons at AllMusic. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  16. ^ Duffy, Thom (23 July 1994). "Ireland's Enya Strikes a Universal Chord". Billboard: 11, 119. Retrieved 19 July 2016. 
  17. ^ Joyce, Mike (19 January 1992). "Britain's Robert Wyatt: Still Bold, Political and Highly Personal". The Washington Post. Retrieved 22 June 2016 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  18. ^ Jaeger, Barbara (16 January 1992). "QUICK SPINS: THE SOUL OF A DANCE DIVA". The Record (Bergen County, New Jersey). Retrieved 22 June 2016 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  19. ^
  20. ^ " Enya - Shepherd Moons" (ASP). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  21. ^ " Enya - Shepherd Moons" (ASP). Hung Medien (in German). Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  22. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 55, No. 9". RPM. 22 February 1992. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  23. ^ " Enya - Shepherd Moons" (ASP). Hung Medien. MegaCharts. Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  24. ^ "Album Search: Enya - Shepherd Moons" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  25. ^ "Hungarian Albums Chart". Retrieved 3 November 2009. 
  26. ^ "エンヤ-リリース-ORICON STYLE-ミュージック" [Highest position and charting weeks of Shepherd Moons by Enya]. (in Japanese). Oricon Style. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  27. ^ " Enya - Watermark" (ASP). Hung Medien. Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  28. ^ " Enya - Shepherd Moons" (ASP). Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  29. ^ "Afyve charts Enya - Shepherd Moons" (ASP). Retrieved 21 October 2015. 
  30. ^ " Enya - Shepherd Moons" (ASP) (in Swedish). Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  31. ^ "Enya - Shepherd Moons -" (ASP). Hung Medien (in German). Swiss Music Charts. Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  32. ^ a b "Complete UK Year-End Album Charts". Archived from the original on 2012-01-11. Retrieved 2013-09-16. [dead link]
  33. ^ "ARIA Charts - End of Year Charts - Top 50 Albums 1992". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  34. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums". (subscription required (help)). 
  35. ^ "Billboard.BIZ – Year-end Charts – Billboard 200 – 1993". Retrieved 12 July 2010. (subscription required (help)). 
  36. ^ "Billboard.BIZ – Year-end Charts – Billboard 200 – 1995". Retrieved 12 July 2010. (subscription required (help)). 
  37. ^ "Argentinian album certifications – Enya – Sheperd Moons". Argentine Chamber of Phonograms and Videograms Producers. 
  39. ^ "Ultratop − Goud en Platina – 2007". Ultratop & Hung Medien / 
  40. ^ "Brazilian album certifications – Enya – Shepherd Moons" (in Portuguese). Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos. 
  41. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Enya – Shepherd Moons". Music Canada. 
  42. ^ "French album certifications – Enya – Shepherd Moons" (in French). InfoDisc.  Select ENYA and click OK
  43. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Enya; 'Shepherd Moons')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  44. ^ "Irish album certifications – Enya – Sheperd Moons". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved February 1, 2013. 
  45. ^ "Japanese album certifications – エンヤ – シェパード・ムーン" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan.  Select 1992年5月 on the drop-down menu
  46. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Enya – Shepherd Moons" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. 
  47. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – Enya – Shepherd Moons". Recorded Music NZ. 
  48. ^ "Spanish album certifications – Enya – Shepherd Moons" (PDF) (in Spanish). Productores de Música de España.  Select the "Chart", enter ' in the field "Year". Select ' in the field "Semana". Click on "Search Charts"
  49. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Enya; 'Shepherd Moons')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. 
  50. ^ "British album certifications – Enya – Shepherd Moons". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Shepherd Moons in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
  51. ^ "American album certifications – Enya – Shepherd Moons". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  52. ^ Cizmar, Martin (10 November 2009). "Enya's Greatest Hits Coming Soon... Wait, Enya Had Hits?". Phoenix New Times Village Voice Media. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Greatest Hits II by Queen
UK number one album
16 November 1991 – 22 November 1991
Succeeded by
We Can't Dance by Genesis