That previous reviewer is correct - we shouldn't be expecting Enya herself on these tribute albums. Merely copying her style note for note means that the covers are forced to go up against the original artist solely in terms of sheer quality, and they will lose in that arena every time. Knowing that, though, tribute albums face their central dilemma - they need somehow to justify their existence with a different take on the old songs, a different arrangement, a different approach that lets us see the pieces in a new light. (Think of what Hayley Westenra brings to her "May It Be", radiant with hope and youth, to contrast with the soft, solemn solace of the also-gorgeous original.)
"A Tribute to Enya" takes the interesting approach of...enunciation. In Enya's usual style, vocals are treated more like another instrument in a larger whole - very often the keystone, yes, but far more intertwined with and recessed into a greater musical mosaic. Here, the artists attempt to shape the songs more traditionally, lyrics crisp and stressed and (mostly) free of reverb and instrumentation soft and backgrounded, making the vocals the definite centerpiece and focus of attention.
It's intriguing, but the results here are mixed. Some of Enya's lyrics have a snappy, clever poetry to them, but others are chosen more for their pure sound more than for their literal meaning. Trouble is, the album's technique is applied to both types equally, with unequal results. It's a delight to hear "Only If" and "Flora's Secret" in this manner, their lyrics' rhyme and wordplay given full berth to shine, and it's interesting to find out exactly what Enya was saying in "Anywhere Is", here sung in a strong, sassy tone. On the other hand, it's rather goofy to hear the "dee-ah-lay-hey-ee, doo doo doo"s on "Only Time" so clearly enunciated and stressed, and it becomes quite clear that many sections of the vocals on "Anywhere Is", intriguing or no, were never meant to hold the center of a composition. The tracks sound choppy more often than not, devoid of liaison or finesse.
The production is below-average at times. Though this is a de rigeur complaint for tributes, Lord, there is some horrible synth on this album on occasion; the music on "Only If" sounds like it came from an organ grinder. "Orinoco Flow" is sung in a key that's too low for the verses and WAY TOO HIGH in the chorus. (It sounds like the record is slipping, actually.) The vocalist is instructed to hit notes that occasionally make it sound as though her voice is breaking, and "Anywhere Is" should have been rerecorded, as the singer in spots seems out of breath. The sound mixing does her no favors, either; the instrumental overlay often threatens to drown her out. (These are failings more of the producers than the performer; they composed the arrangements and put the fluffed performances on the disc. Vocalists in tribute albums aren't usually asked to shoulder this much of the load, either.) I did, though, smile at the cymbals at "let me crash up on your shore" in "Orinoco Flow", and there's some nice harp in "May It Be". And the vocalist, who unimpeded has a Celtic Woman-esque voice, does a nice job on "May It Be" and a strong "Flora's Secret".
I'm giving the album two stars more for the effort than the end product. They did go in with an idea, but the arrangements needed more planning and thought - and better production values - to pull it off. "Paint the Sky with Stars" isn't bad, and there're sound imitations of "Far and Away" and "Shepherd Moons", but, again, it's the original vs. the cover; if I want to hear a good straight version of the track, I'll listen to Enya's. I can't recommend a purchase, but give it a listen on Napster.