Moya Brennan (aka Máire Brennan) is one of my absolute favorite artists. She rose to fame as the main vocalist of Irish band Clannad, which began recording in 1973, and released her first solo album in 1992. Moya’s solo work has been described as ‘adult contemporary,’ ‘new age,’ ‘Celtic pop,’ and more recently ‘adult Christian contemporary.’ I personally don’t normally go for music that falls into that last category (I don’t like music that preaches at me!) but luckily Moya has a magic touch when it comes to lyrics and manages to keep her more overtly Christian-influenced tracks from becoming sermons.
I also don’t think that her music is very new age-y at all. To me, ‘new age’ implies flaky airs about fairies and forests with tinkling wind chimes and flutes. If I were to categorize Moya’s music myself, I would think my own made-up label of ‘adult Celtic pop with a bit o’ religion’ suits her quite well.
Because Moya happens to be Enya’s sister, there are bound to be comparisons between the two. I was an Enya fan before I listened to Moya, and after having listened to both for years now, I honestly think Moya and Enya have entirely different ‘sounds.’ For one thing, most of Enya’s work is piano and synth-based. Moya has her own backing band and is a harpist herself. Of course if you’re looking for similarities to Enya’s music in Moya’s solo work (because that seems to be the way people see it, not the other way around), you’ll probably find it, as there’s no doubt that their music pretty much fits into the same category (sans the religious bit in Enya’s case). To put it another way, their theory may be similar, but the way they practice – you can definitely hear a difference.
My favorite Moya album is Two Horizons. It’s just wonderful and so lushly produced; it’s more like an experience than simply something you listen to! The album tells a story: Moya meets a stranger who tells her she has been chosen to find the lost harp of Tara. This harp had been played once in a peaceful time and Moya is to play it once again, so that, as Moya said in an interview, ‘maybe it would bring back that peace that we so longed for within ourselves or within the world that we live in or even in Ireland itself.’
In that same interview, Moya described the recording of Two Horizons as being like painting a picture, all full of colors and shades. That’s a perfect way to think of the album, really – a bit of a work of art! The songs have electronic touches and those classic Irish flourishes that Moya does so well. Moya deftly mixes the traditional with the modern and comes up with a beautiful, almost ethereal, product.