Enya's 'Shepherd Moons' ultimately delivers melody

December 06, 1991|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

SHEPHERD MOONS

Enya (Reprise 26775) No matter how much new age artists might rely on mood to put their music across, it always helps if an album has a few tunes to go along with that atmosphere. Or so it would seem from a few listens to "Shepherd Moons," the latest offering from Irish synthesist Enya. Sure, the sonic tapestries she weaves are richly seductive, full of quiet chord washes and softly rippling arpeggios, but to tell the truth, such effects work best as background; when you get right down to it, it's the melody that matters most. And melody is what Enya ultimately delivers, from the irresistible balladry of "How Can I Keep from Singing?" to the lullaby-like refrain of "Marble Halls."

PANDORA'S BOX

Aerosmith (Columbia 46209)

In classical mythology, when Pandora opened the forbidden box, what she got was a world of problems. Open up Aerosmith's "Pandora's Box," and what you'll get isn't a lot of trouble, but a lesson about the trouble with a lot. There's plenty of worthy material packed into this three-CD (or three cassette) set, from classics like "Walk This Way" and "Sweet Emotion" to outtakes testifying to the solidity of the band's rhythm section. But it's hardly enough to sustain a 52-song overview, and the weaker moments -- from the amateurish blues-rock of "When I Needed You" to the bloated excess of "Riff & Roll" -- are enough to make any but the most devoted fan long for the simplicity of a greatest hits album.

THE WORDS AND MUSIC

OF WORLD WAR II

Documentary Recording (Columbia/Legacy 48516)

After the rout at Dunkirk, Winston Churchill announced that Britain would fight its enemies on the oceans and in the air, in the streets, fields and hills. What he didn't mention, though, was that World War II would also be fought on the radio. After all, the airwaves were used by both sides to stir passions and instill patriotism, and "The Words and Music of World War II" offers an impressive sampling of how they did it. From Edward R. Murrow's eyewitness reports to Lord Haw-Haw's propaganda, and from "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" to "Der Fuerher's Face," this delightful documentary paints a vivid picture of how that war sounded.

KENNY KIRKLAND

Kenny Kirkland (GRP 9657)

Given the amount of rock and R&B session work he's done in recent years, it might be easy to forget what a great jazz pianist Kenny Kirkland is. Don't worry -- "Kenny Kirkland" makes one hell of a reminder. Whether he's adding a Latin twist to Monk's "Criss Cross," conjuring an electronic orchestra in "Celia" or dancing around the waltz rhythms beneath "Chance," Kirkland's playing is as imaginative as it is idiosyncratic, and rarely less than riveting. All told, it's the sort of debut likely to leave any jazz fan wondering why a soloist this strong didn't step out on his own earlier.

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