It's like curling up in front of a log fire with a glass of your favourite Amontillado.
Dennis O'Dell 2008
If you think about it for more than a second you wonder why it's taken this long for the Irish queen of new age-lite to make a Yuletide album. The softly arpeggiated synth strings and lushly manifold, overdubbed voices put one in mind of nothing less than snowflakes and heavenly choirs. Well, actually she has made a couple of seasonal EPs, but this is the first full-length effort - and for Enya afficianados this can be taken as something that fits perfectly into her canon thus far while giving them considerable amounts of seasonal cheer into the bargain.
And Winter Came... features Enya herself on writing duties for all but two tracks, aided by her usual team of Roma Ryan on lyrics and Nicky Ryan as producer. It's a billing that's been together since 1987's debut; indeed they might be considered a band, working under the singer's name. The usual blend of ambient synthesizer chords and floating whispery voices speak of stars, moonlight, angels and even toys (One Toy Soldier). Aurally, it's like curling up in front of a log fire with a glass of your favourite Amontillado.
Of course, huge swathes of people regard this stuff as evil in small round silvery plastic form (let's not even go near the analogy that the creators of Southpark used her music as), yet there's a reason why she's garnered so much film soundtrack work and racked up the sales. Her music fulfills a very specific purpose: to evoke calm and a palpable atmosphere (no matter how ersatz and air freshener bland you regard it).
Only My! My! Time Flies! breaks the spell with its Beatle tribute tune and wailing guitar solo. It's still a mellow kind of rocking, mind you, and the solo is reverb-drenched enough to make it not too intrusive while you're writing those Xmas lists or resting after an excess of pudding.
Finally, just to ensure the maximum amount of esprit de noel there's the inclusion of two traditional tunes. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and Oiche Chiuin (Silent Night rendered beautifully in Gaelic). It's actually on these adaptations that you get to hear the true mastery of the multi-tracking and deceptively simple arrangements that have netted them over 70 million sales. It makes you wish that she'd put more traditional fare on this lushly indulgent, gift-wrapped album.