Sounds like … the distinctive Celtic pop sound of Moya Brennan, as well as her band Clannad, her sister Enya, and the lighter side of groups like Iona and Afro Celt Sound System.

At a glance … Signature is an abstractly worded musical testimony that's more deeply felt than clearly expressed, but Moya Brennan's soothing sound strikes a nice balance between Celtic folk and ambient easy listening.

Some assume Moya Brennan is relatively new to the Christian faith since she's only sung about her beliefs in the last ten years. In reality, she was raised a believer, but at the peak of her success with Irish super-group Clannad in the late '80s, she struggled with drugs and alcohol. It was only when she recommitted her life to Christ that things settled down, bringing peace into her heart. Today she wants to use her life experiences to encourage others, particularly those who find themselves in a place of addiction and uncertainty. Signature is said to be her most personal album to date—a musical autobiography of her faith journey.

At least, that's what we're told. The lyrics on this album are too often impressionistic without clearly communicating Brennan's story. Take "Never Stray Far Away" with unclear lyrics like, "We should not compromise our ways/And I'm hearing wild birds singing home today/Somewhere our secret lives are grey/Somewhere there's hope not far away." Most of these Signature songs are similarly abstract, sometimes constructed with lyrical fragments. There's a sense that Brennan's testimony is more deeply felt than clearly expressed, though some like "Gone Are the Days" and "Purple Haze" (not the Jimi Hendrix song) seem to reminisce on her past.

Of course, Brennan doesn't write exclusively for Christians, but you'd think her autobiography would have been more of a testimony. Still, the darkly hued "Black Night" has the same questioning quality as the Psalms, "No One Talks" ponders an empty loveless life, and "Hear My Prayer" does overtly live up to its title. The American release of Signature (the UK version released in 2006) also includes a remake of "I Will Find You," which was originally featured in the 1992 film The Last of the Mohicans—it's somehow fitting here as a possible reflection of Brennan's own spiritual journey, or God's relentless love for us.

Lyrical style aside, Brennan sounds terrific as usual, her distinctive breathy vocals overlaying a stripped-down Celtic pop sound that's neither too barebones folk nor too overproduced easy listening. And she rounds out the album with a truly captivating rendition of the traditional "Pill A Run O," her soothing voice floating effortlessly over her harp accompaniment. Though Signature isn't as revelatory as one might hope, it shows they don't call Moya Brennan "the first lady of Celtic music" for nothing.

Our Rating
3½ Stars - Good
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Release Date
September 25, 2007
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