The 2020s have had an inauspicious start. The move into a new decade was meant to be a real chance to put the past behind us and become the best versions of ourselves. Instead of fulfilling industrious resolutions and heading back to the gym, however, we have been gifted with a worldwide pandemic and never-ending examples of how idiotic governments can be. 2020 has been a bad year, to say the least. One of the only good things to come out of it is realising Enya could predict the future – though, if her astoundingly prescient fifth album, A Day Without Rain, is to be believed, things are not going to improve anytime soon.
Listen to A Day Without Rain
Released on 20 November 2000, A Day Without Rain, is an elegant body of music that shaped its own curious genre in order, becoming her most unique album to date. Revealing an astounding dedication to her craft, every sound you hear, every instrument played, was done so by Enya. And the album is more relevant now than ever. Twenty years after its release, what was once seen as complex and beautiful feels like an unfortunate and fragile prophecy that paints Enya as an unaware soothsayer.
How did she do it? We’ll never know, but there’s something so haunting about the way A Day Without Rain encapsulates the fears and thoughts felt across the world in 2020 that it’s hard to believe the album wasn’t written in response to COVID-19. The emotions – both happy and sad – she details are relatable and real, from the feeling of isolation that greeted the initial days of lockdown, to the surging panic felt when COVID-19 spilled into the summer and beyond.
On the surface, A Day Without Rain follows a conventional album formula: drawing you in slowly at first, it ups the dread and then softly returns to the mellow introductions that welcomed us so kindly in. Listen a little closer, however, and the album is far darker, far eerier than anyone could have imagined. Through its 12 songs, Enya seemingly hops between meticulously conjoined soundscapes, each with their own diverse theme; these songs describe love and longing, but they also reflect the shared panic of a nation living in fear.
Complex dreamscapes, creeping anxiety
The album’s title track opens things peacefully, as if an ode to hopeful new beginnings at the start of 2020: we may have been aware of COVID-19, we just didn’t think it would affect us. A lucid piano softly ushers us in, while a gentle chorus of disembodied voices hums tenderly. Innocent, peaceful and simple, it’s a lullaby helping us drift into the complex dreamscapes Enya has planned out.