A professional musician for nearly a decade before this album was released in 1988, the multi-platinum Watermark is the recording that made Enya an international sensation. A native of Ireland, her true musical inspiration lies with her Celtic roots, and though she may have been branded the quintessential New Age vocalist in the U.S., that’s a simplification of her style and a bit of a misnomer in general. (Of course, it's a marketing approach that certainly did boost sales). So though, yes, this album does perfectly complement, say, a bubble bath, it’s too intricate and intriguing to simply dismiss it as soothing background music. What sets it apart from so many other relaxing albums is Enya’s voice. Stunning and pure, it's further enhanced by the vocal overdubs and layered keyboards that lend it a trace of echo and effectively draw the notes out, giving it a trace-like quality. The music rises and falls pleasantly around her without stretching for contrived drama, and there are piano and string passages throughout that are as gorgeous as they are subtle, along with some excellent use of traditional Irish pipes. Strong from start to finish, Watermark also contains “Orinoco Flow,” the album’s runaway hit single with the catchy “sail away” chorus. Arguably her finest and most consistent release.

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