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Enya's New Album Celebrates Winter

Ireland's best-selling solo artist, Enya, has a new album out. The aptly titled And Winter Came... explores themes of the season and the passing of time.

"It has to do with that reflective time of year," Enya says of the title. "The spring, summer, is quite a hectic time for people in their lives, but then it comes to autumn, and to winter, and you can't but help think back to the year that was, and then hopefully looking forward to the year that is approaching."

Enya's new album finds her elaborating on her otherworldly sound, but also drawing from other, more earthly places.

"There is a really strong influence musically from The Beatles," Enya says of "My! My! Time Flies!" — a song that references a conversation Enya had with Roma Ryan, her primary lyricist, about music's progression over time.

Over the years, Enya has received a fair amount of flak from critics.

"I do understand that not everyone is going to sit and listen to an Enya album," she says. "When someone says it's not their cup of tea, it's not their kind of album, that's fine by me.

"When you spend two to three years working on an album that I feel very happy with the end result, there is nothing I would change," she says. "Musically, I have achieved what I set out to do."

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Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, host:

Ireland's bestselling solo artist first began to dazzle and haunt America with her voice 20 years ago with her album "Watermark."

(Soundbite of song "Orinoco Flow")

ENYA: (Singing) Let me sail, let me sail, let the Orinoco flow, Let me reach, let me beach on the shores of Tripoli.

SIMON: Since then, her music has crossed borders of state and song. In the 1990s, The Fugees sampled her work with their hit song, "Ready or Not.

(Soundbite of song "Ready Or Not")

THE FUGEES: (Singing) Ready or not, here I come, you can't hide, I'm gonna find you, and take it slowly. Ready or not, here I come, you can't hide.

SIMON: Two of her songs were used in Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" film, "The Fellowship of the Ring." And her song "Only Time" was often used as background music in television reports about 9/11. Of course, we're talking about Enya. She has sold 70 million albums around the world, but it's almost hard to believe, she has never done a concert tour and does not do a lot of interviews. So we're pleased to be joined by Enya from our studios in New York. She has a new album out, "And Winter Came." Thanks so much for being with us.

ENYA (Singer): You're very welcome.

SIMON: Now, if somebody listens to this album very carefully, is there any chance they're going to get frostbite?

ENYA: (Laughing) I hope not, I hope not. I think it's more to do with that reflective time of year. The spring, summer, you know, it's quite a hectic time for people in their lives. But then it comes to autumn and to winter, and you know, you can't but help think back to the year that was, and then hopefully looking forward to the year that is approaching.

SIMON: I want to ask you about a song that maybe doesn't fit into the winter theme, "My! My! Time Flies!"

(Soundbite of laughter)

ENYA: Yes.

SIMON: In fact, let's listen to a little of that, if we can, for a moment.

ENYA: OK.

(Soundbite of song "My! My! Time Flies!")

ENYA: (Singing) My! My! Time flies! One step and we're on the moon, Next step into the stars. My! My! Time flies! Maybe we could be there soon, A one-way ticket to Mars.

SIMON: What moved you to write this song?

ENYA: This is a song that's really kind of talking about the new year. And there's a very sort of strong influence, I think, you know, musically from the Beatles, I have to say. And the lyrics, it was quite interesting, because the day we decided, yes, we'll include this on the album, Roma was sitting in the studio with us, and the conversation we had is what she based the lyrics on. So we were talking about the Beatles. It would have led to Tchaikovsky. It led to Elves Presley. It led to BB King. And she thought it would be quite interesting to have a reference to everything we spoke about that day within the lyrics.

(Soundbite of song "My! My! Time Flies!")

ENYA: (Singing) My! My! Time flies! A new day is on its way, So let's let yesterday go. Could be we step out again. Could be tomorrow but then, Could be 2010.

SIMON: Let me ask you about a technique that Nicky Ryan uses, called the choir of one, where he layers your voice so that it sounds like there is a choir of Enyas. How does this work?

ENYA: He will ask me to sing a first harmony, and he continues to record that same harmony until he gets what he calls the sound. And then he'll ask me spontaneously to sing a harmony to this. And then it kind of builds up each time.

(Soundbite of song "White is in the Winter Night")

ENYA: (Singing) Have you seen the bright blue star? It fills your heart with wishes. Have you seen the candlelight? It shines from every window. Have you seen the moon above? It lights the sky in silver.

ENYA: It's a process which I really enjoy because there are no shortcuts. You have to sing from the beginning of the song to the end of the song, and it's only the very end that you hear is it working or is it not?

(Soundbite of song "White is in the Winter Night")

ENYA: (Singing) Gold is in the candlelight and crimson in the embers. White is in the winter night that everyone remembers.

SIMON: The word "spiritual" is so often used to describe your music. Are you spiritual?

ENYA: I would say, yes. You know, it's more to do with, you know, I was brought up singing in church, and it's more sort of the spiritual side of it that I've taken and the religious side of it. And I enjoyed the participation in a school choir at church. So, I think, you know, that to me, musical influence, that would be definitely an influence that comes through for me.

SIMON: Enya, I think it's safe to say, if I might put it this way, despite the critics, you have sold 70 million albums around the world.

ENYA: Yes, yes.

SIMON: While you have the chance, because you don't do a lot of interviews, is there anything you'd like to say to critics?

ENYA: I have to say that, you know, I do understand that not everyone is going to sit and listen to an Enya album. And you know, I grew up listening to very diverse music. And I still listen to all genre music. I think it's really important. So when someone says, it's not their cup of tea, it's not their album, that's fine by me, you know.

SIMON: Is it easier to be gracious to critics when you've sold 70 million albums?

(Soundbite of laughter)

ENYA: Again, to me, I have to say, in all honesty, that when you spend two to three years working on an album, that I feel very happy with the end results, you know. So, it's a nice thing to say for me is there's nothing I would change. So, I feel, you know, within myself musically that I've kind of achieved what I set out to do.

SIMON: You live in this castle in Ireland? May I ask, are you lonely?

ENYA: Absolutely not. It's more to do with a case of how beautiful the castle is. It's very inspirational to me because let me describe my view in the morning.

SIMON: All right.

ENYA: It's overlooking the Irish Sea and the Wicklow Mountains. And the grounds descend down into a wooded area. And it's every day, every minute, when you look at the horizon and the sea, it's very, very different. So this is where after I leave the studio, this is where it's very important to have time to myself. I'm very closely guarded about what I do in my free time. But it's a very normal lifestyle that I have once I sort of leave those studio doors.

SIMON: And you're so nice to talk to.

ENYA: Thank you.

SIMON: Good luck, OK?

ENYA: Thank you.

SIMON: Speaking with us from New York, Enya. Her new album, "And Winter Came," is out now.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: And you can hear songs from Enya's new album at nprmusic.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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