To call the Brennans of County Donegal, Ireland, a musical family would be inadequate. Patriarch Leo Brennan was a musician himself before opening a tavern, but his children have found phenomenal success with their careers.
Multi-platinum seller Eithne releases her first album in five years, titled Amarantine, on Nov. 23, 2005. Her siblings in Clannad have been together for three decades, scoring the first Top 5 hit in the UK sung in Irish with “Harry’s Game” back in 1982.
Youngest daughter Bridin Brennan watched as Enya and Clannad became international stars, but instead of following in her siblings footsteps, she decided to become a hairdresser.
That didn’t stop Clannad from taking her out on the road in the early ’90s to sing back-up for the group. She also recorded backing vocals on Mairé’s first two solo albums.
Bridin then went to work as a scheduler for hairdresser Charles Worthington, but eventually, she was coaxed back into music. In August 2005, she released her debut album, Eyes of Innocence.
Look up the word “ethereal” in a dictionary, and you’ll find a family portrait of the Brennans beside the definition. But Bridin won’t be in that picture.
Rather than mix folk music with classical or jazz or rock, Bridin goes straight for a pop sound — “chilled adult pop”, as she describes it. Think Dido or Minnie Driver.
It’s a suitable sound for her smooth, rich voice. Bridin doesn’t go for the angelic croon of Mairé or Enya. She sticks to an alto range, dark but also pretty.
While she may get close to the ambience of her siblings on such songs as “Deep Deep Sleep”, “Don’t Go” and “Power of Three”, she still produces the most extroverted music of them all.
Ominous guitars propel “Face to Face”, while a driving beat pushes “Breakdown”. Folk guitars and synthesized strings buoy the optimistic “You Can’t Hurt Me”.
On other tracks, sturdy bass lines ground the mid-tempo hush of “Where’s Your Love” and “Got What You Wanted”.
It’s not the kind of album to challenge the creative mettle of Kate Bush, Madonna or UA. But as far as the Brennan dynasty is concerned, it’s the most distinctive work in the family.
(Because let’s face it — Clannad and Enya are pretty much different sides of the same coin.)
Eyes of Innocence is a strong debut by a singer with some challenging footsteps to follow. Thankfully, Bridin Brennan is assertive enough to go her own way.
Eyes of Innocense was released only in Ireland, but it’s available to the US online through iTunes.