In 2006 Enya released her most subtle and song-oriented album to date.
Amarantine may have paled in comparison to Watermark or Shepherd Moons, but its under-produced (in Enya-world) balladry was a small leap forward for the reclusive Irish superstar.
2008's And Winter Came follows in the same footsteps as Amarantine, but it hints at the grandeur of earlier recordings, specifically 1994's Christmas EP.
Enya's ferociously multi-tracked recording style lends itself well to the season, filling in the simplistic lyrical holes with small avalanches of vocal harmonies and the dated but reliable keyboard patches that have come to define the singer/composer's work over the years.
For the most part the formula is intact, boasting a soft Edward Scissorhands-inspired intro, copious amounts of secular and non-secular ballads (all original), and two or three upbeat, midtempo jams to break the stillness.
Of the former, the lovely and reverent "Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is the most effective, while the galloping "White Is in the Winter Night" leads the pack for the latter.
There are copious amounts of "stars in the skies" and "bells ringing," and even a surprising left turn (maybe even a complete u-turn) near the end on "My! My! Time Flies!," a straight-up "Beatlesque" pop tune with drums and a screaming guitar solo that sounds like something off of a late-'60s Bee Gees record.
As usual, Enya fans will be pleased with the results while non-believers will find that the same arguments against her are still valid, but in the end And Winter Came is an undeniably welcome addition to the holiday season, if only for its effortless, white, spray-painted pinecone elegance and potpourri-scented, gift shop comforts.