on 17 May 2015
"Anam" is Clannad's umpteenth album, released originally in 1990. The title means “Soul” in Gaelic and the title marks the band's a return to the more organic Celtic sound, which originally made them famous, and from which they steered away in the mid-80s in favor of more pop-oriented hits.
Being a return to the roots, this album, however, is a bit patchy. It was recorded very quickly over a period of three months. You can hear jazz influences here, but also a lot of ambient music and folk music. There are also tinges of classical music (Dobhair), late 80-s soft rock in the style of Something to Believe In (Love and Affection) and even a bit of country (You’re the One). The album generally has a darker atmosphere, which is emphasized by two short instrumental tracks, Wilderness and Dobhair. As both are lovely in their own way, they are nonetheless a bit of fillers here. The title track and the folk song Uirchill An Chraegain are haunting airy pieces based on delicate synthesizer background against which Maire Brennan's delicate voice weaves its spellbinding web.
Highlights from the album include the majestic Ri Na Cruinne, the folky Poison Glen and the jazzy Why Worry.
Two singles were released to promote the album: In Fortune’s Hand, a jazz-folk-rock song with a driving melody and lots of sax interludes. Why Worry, the second single, sounds a bit like Sade with its lovely vocal harmonies and overall smoky-jazzy feel. This is one of my favourite songs of the band. I was curious why the haunting Ri Na Cruinne, which opens the album, was not released as a single, but the choice of the singles was nonetheless good, as both songs well represent what you can hear on the album.
Anam is one of my favourite albums by Clannad. It’s because of the dark atmosphere, the vocal harmonies, and the gentle voice of Maire Brennan. It’s an album for a rainy day or for an evening – may be slightly depressing though, but it’s undeniably a very good mixture of acoustic folk songs and haunting ambient soundscapes. As I said, it’s a bit patchy because of that, but also lovely and rewarding after a few listenings.
By the way, this album was released in the US in 1992 with a different cover and featuring In a Lifetime and Theme from Harry's Game, the band's biggest hits, which somehow fit very good into the atmosphere of this album. In 2003 the original album (without the US version bonsu tracks) was released again, this time with a remix of Ri Na Cruinne.
on 19 November 2013
I stopped buying Clannad's albums after Macalla and just added a best of album to my collection then picked up another best of album with tracks from Lore, Landmarks and this album. I was so impressed that I bought all three of these albums and have since added their latest album, Ndur to my collection. I thought Macalla was their best ever but Anam scores a photo finish.