Watermark (Enya album)

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Cover art by David Hiscock
Studio album by Enya
Released 19 September 1988
Recorded June 1987 – April 1988[1] at Orinoco Studios, London, England
Genre New age
Length 39:42
Enya chronology
Shepherd Moons
Singles from Watermark
  1. "Orinoco Flow"
    Released: 15 October 1988
  2. "Evening Falls..."
    Released: 1988
  3. "Storms in Africa"
    Released: 1989
  4. "Exile"
    Released: 1991

Watermark is the second studio album from the Irish musician Enya, released in September 1988 on WEA Records. Following her first album, Enya (1987), produced for the BBC documentary The Celts, Enya signed with WEA, giving her complete artistic freedom on a follow up with no interference from the label. Watermark displays Enya's distinct sound of layered vocals, keyboard sounds, and elements of Celtic music. The album is seen by some as a seminal example of new-age music, though Enya does not consider her music to be of the genre.

Watermark received a largely positive critical response and was an unexpected commercial success, reaching No. 5 in the UK and No. 25 in the US, where it sold over four million copies. Four tracks were released as singles; the first, "Orinoco Flow", was a worldwide success, reaching No. 1 in the UK for three weeks. The album was reissued in 1989 and remastered in 2009 for a release in Japan on Super High Material CD.



In 1987 Enya released her first album, Enya, produced for the soundtrack to the BBC television documentary series The Celts with lyricist Roma Ryan and arranger and producer Nicky Ryan. The album was largely ignored by the public and was a mild commercial success. Rob Dickens, then chairman of Warner Music UK, became a fan of the album, playing it "every night before I went to bed".[2] Following a chance meeting in 1987 at the Irish Recorded Music Association Awards in Dublin, Dickens spoke to the three about his interest in signing Enya to his label. Enya accepted, and was given the green-light to produce a second album with complete artistic freedom without the label's interference.[3] Dickins recalled, "Sometimes you sign an act to make money, and sometimes you sign an act to make music. This was clearly the latter ... I just wanted to be involved with this music."[4] Enya departed from Atlantic Records, her first US distributor, to the WEA-led Geffen Records.[5]


Watermark is formed of eleven tracks, eight of which feature Enya and Roma Ryan as co-writers. The remaining three songs are instrumentals composed by Enya herself. Three additional musicians are featured; Neil Buckley plays the clarinet on "On Your Shore", Chris Hughes plays the rototoms on "River" and African hand drum on "Storms in Africa", and Davy Spillane contributes the low whistle and Uillean pipes on "Exile" and "Na Laetha Geal M'óige". Enya sings in English, Gaelic, her first language, and in Latin.[5] "Orinoco Flow" references Dickins and the album's co-producer Ross Cullum in its lyrics.[6] Enya explained "On Your Shore" is a song about "is about a beach at home and it's really close to me ... It's really beautiful."[1] he album features a variety of keyboards played by Enya, including the Yamaha KX88 Master, Yamaha DX7, Oberheim Matrix, Akai S900, Roland D-50, and Roland Juno-60.

Watermark was recorded from June 1987 to April 1988.[1] It was first recorded in demo form in its entirety at Nicky Ryan's 16-track studio at his home in Dublin.[7] The music displayed Enya's sound of multi-layered vocals, keyboard sounds, and influences of Celtic music. When recording took place at Orinoco Studios in London, two 32-track machines by Mitsubishi were used.[7] The album was mixed at Wessex Sound Studios. During the final stages of recording, Enya tripped on a step which resulted in two cuts to her knee. She continued to work, "taking these heavy pain-killers, sitting at the desk, in the studio with one foot propped up on cushions."[8]


Watermark was first released in September 1988 in the UK; its North American release followed in January 1989.[9] The album was a success on the charts, reaching No. 5 in the UK[10] and No. 25 in the US.[11] By December 1988, Watermark had sold over 20,000 copies in Ireland and 300,000 copies in the UK.[9] Four tracks were released as singles between 1988 and 1991. "Orinoco Flow" was the most successful where it topped the UK singles chart for three weeks, sold over 250,000 copies there, and also went to No. 1 in nine countries.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[6]
Robert Christgau D+[12]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[13]

In a retrospective review for AllMusic, critic Ned Raggett rated the album five starts out of five.[6]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Roma Ryan, all music composed, vocals by Enya and all songs produced by Enya and Nicky Ryan.

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Watermark"   2:24
2. "Cursum Perficio"  
3. "On Your Shore"  
  • Enya
  • R. Ryan
4. "Storms in Africa"  
  • Enya
  • R. Ryan
5. "Exile"  
  • Enya
  • R. Ryan
6. "Miss Clare Remembers"  
  • Enya
7. "Orinoco Flow"  
  • Enya
  • R. Ryan
8. "Evening Falls..."  
  • Enya
  • R. Ryan
9. "River"  
  • Enya
10. "The Longships"  
  • Enya
  • R. Ryan
11. "Na Laetha Geal M'óige"  
  • Enya
  • R. Ryan


  • Nicky Ryan – production, arrangement, hand percussion
  • Roma Ryan – lyrics
  • Ross Cullum – production, engineering, mixing
  • Jim Barton – mixing
  • Rob Dickins – executive producer
  • David Hiscook – cover photography
  • Russel Yamy – additional photography
  • Laurence Dunmore – design


Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
1990 "Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)" Best New Age Album[14] Nominated

Japan Gold Disc Awards[edit]

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
1990 Enya The Grand Prix International New Artist of Year[15] Won



Region Certification Sales/shipments
Argentina (CAPIF)[35] Platinum 60,000x
Australia (ARIA)[36] 6× Platinum 420,000^
Belgium (BEA)[37] Platinum 50,000*
Brazil (ABPD)[38] 2× Platinum 500,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[39] 3× Platinum 300,000^
France (SNEP)[40] 2× Gold 200,000*
Germany (BVMI)[41] Platinum 500,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[42] 2× Platinum 400,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[43] Platinum 100,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[44] Platinum 15,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[45] 5× Platinum 500,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[46] Platinum 50,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[47] 4× Platinum 1,200,000^
United States (RIAA)[48] 4× Platinum 4,000,000^
Worldwide 11,000,000

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Preceded by
Money for Nothing by Dire Straits
Swiss Chart number-one album
22 January 1989
Succeeded by
Ancient Heart by Tanita Tikaram
Preceded by
Tracy Chapman by Tracy Chapman
New Zealand Chart number-one album
9–16 April 1989
Succeeded by
Union by Toni Childs


  1. ^ a b c "Press release for Watermark". Geffen Records. January 1989. 
  2. ^ Stokes, Niall (6 October 1988). "Going with the Flow". Hot Press. Retrieved 1 January 2016. 
  3. ^ Tuber, Keith (March 1992). "The Transcendent Sounds of Enya". Orange Coast: 120, 122. Retrieved 1 January 2016. 
  4. ^ Duffy, Thom (23 July 1994). "Ireland's Enya Strikes a Universal Chord". Billboard: 11, 119. 
  5. ^ a b Lanham, Tom (1989). "Interview with Enya". The Sunday Chronicle. 
  6. ^ a b c AllMusic review
  7. ^ a b "Watermark Recording Process". Sonics. 1989. 
  8. ^ Smith, Giles (December 1991). "Haunting, ethereal, mystical, etc.". Q. Retrieved 3 January 2016. 
  9. ^ a b Stokes, Niall (1 December 1988). "Going with the Flow". Hot Press. Retrieved 1 January 2016. 
  10. ^ a b "Enya - Artists - Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "allmusic ((( Watermark - Charts & Awards - Billboard Albums )))". allmusic.com. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  12. ^ Robert Christgau Consumer Guide
  13. ^ Rolling Stone review
  14. ^ "The Grammys, Round 1 : Pop Music: Rock 'n' roll veterans lead pack of recording industry awards nominees.". latimes.com. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  15. ^ "第4回日本ゴールドディスク大賞" [The 4th Japan Gold Disc Awards]. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  16. ^ "australian-charts.com Enya – Watermark" (ASP). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  17. ^ "austriancharts.at Enya – Watermark" (ASP). Hung Medien (in German). Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  18. ^ "Top Albums/CDs – Volume 50, No. 1". RPM. 1 May 1989. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  19. ^ "dutchcharts.nl Enya – Watermark" (ASP). Hung Medien. MegaCharts. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  20. ^ "Album Search: Enya – Watermark" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  21. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1989" (in Italian). hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  22. ^ "エンヤ-リリース-ORICON STYLE-ミュージック" [Highest position and charting weeks of Watermark by Enya]. oricon.co.jp (in Japanese). Oricon Style. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  23. ^ "charts.org.nz Enya – Watermark" (ASP). Hung Medien. Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  24. ^ "norwegiancharts.com Enya – Watermark" (ASP). Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  25. ^ "swedishcharts.com Enya – Watermark" (ASP) (in Swedish). Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  26. ^ "Enya – Watermark – hitparade.ch" (ASP). Hung Medien (in German). Swiss Music Charts. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  27. ^ "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1988" (ASP) (in Dutch). Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  28. ^ a b "Complete UK Year-End Album Charts". Archived from the original on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  29. ^ "ARIA Charts – End of Year Charts – Top 50 Albums 1989". aria.com.au. Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  30. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1989". RPM. 21 December 1989. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  31. ^ "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1988" (ASP) (in Dutch). Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  32. ^ "1989年 アルバム年間TOP100" [Oricon Year-end Albums Chart of 1989] (in Japanese). Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  33. ^ "Hitparade.ch – Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1989" (ASP). Swiss Music Charts (in Swedish). Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  34. ^ "Billboard.BIZ: Top Pop Albums of 1989". Archived from the original on 21 July 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  35. ^ "Argentinian album certifications – Enya – Water Mark". Argentine Chamber of Phonograms and Videograms Producers. 
  36. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1996 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. 
  37. ^ "Ultratop − Goud en Platina – 2007". Ultratop & Hung Medien / hitparade.ch. 
  38. ^ "Brazilian album certifications – Enya – Watermark" (in Portuguese). Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos. 
  39. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Enya – Watermark". Music Canada. 
  40. ^ "French album certifications – Enya – Watermark" (in French). InfoDisc.  Select ENYA and click OK
  41. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Enya; 'Watermark')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  42. ^ "RIAJ - The Record - June 1998 - Certified Awards (April 1998)" (PDF). Recording Industry Association of Japan (in Japanese). Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  43. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Enya – Watermark" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. 
  44. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – Enya – Watermark". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. 
  45. ^ "Spanish album certifications – Enya – Watermark" (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"
  46. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Enya; 'Watermark')". Hung Medien. 
  47. ^ "British album certifications – Enya – Watermark". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Watermark 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
  48. ^ "American album certifications – Enya – Watermark". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]