I think this has become my favourite Clannad album. It shows a mature band at the height of their powers, with an unrivalled feel for their material, just before they ventured off into commercialism. I believe it's the first album with 'Enya' (Eithne) on board; it's also the last to feature traditional songs exclusively. Coincidence?
Of course, it wouldn't be entirely fair to blame Enya. Still, it must be a little bit gutting to be Maire Ni Bhraonain. She's far more talented than her younger sister: has one of the most beautiful and distinctive voices in popular music, the very sound of Celtic Twilight, and is a pretty good harpist too. With the two taking lead vocal on different tracks here, without the thick production wash of their later sound, you can hear clearly how much superior Maire is. Yet Enya is the one who has gone on to stardom (even if she is also a byword for naffness); 'Moya' has been reduced to anglicising her name in imitation.
All the more reason, maybe, to enjoy her superb performances here. Brother Ciaran, too, is on top of his game as arranger, with a sophisticated understanding of harmonies and a good instinct for not overdoing it; but I'm just as happy to hear Maire's completely solo rendition of An Bunnan Bui. It's all too short - only about half an hour - but with songs like Last Rose of Summer and the title track, it is at times breathtakingly beautiful.