The Ennis Sisters,
Ennis Sisters
(Warner Music Canada, 2001)

The harmonies of sisters have been heard from the east coast of Canada for a while. When the Ennis Sisters came on to the scene, it was natural to compare their voices to the Rankins. Family, especially on the east coast, provides a strong background to encourage your musical interests because it is part of the heritage. With the Rankins no longer recording, there's now a new set of sisters making beautiful music together.

Newfoundland's Ennis Sisters are bringing their family sing-alongs to the world stage with their new CD, simply titled Ennis Sisters. This CD is the first from their new deal with Warner Music Canada, following three hard-to-find independent recordings.

But now Newfoundland's secret has been revealed to the rest of the country. While those recordings contain mostly traditional music, Ennis Sisters contains 11 original songs, all written or co-written by Maureen Ennis and her songwriting partner Mark Murphy.

While Maureen, the oldest sibling, is still in her early 20s, her writing can easily rank up there with many twice her age. She received praise from her colleagues at the 2001 East Coast Music Awards in Charlottetown, PEI, when she participated in a Songwriters Circle. Music is very much a part of Maureen, who started writing at age 8. (She has left those songs back home, she says.)

Sisters Karen and Teresa create wonderful harmonies along with Maureen. The three voices connect in a way that only family can. The three are so close as well that they actually finish each others sentences, and there's a carefree nature about the songs on this CD, all coming from experiences in the past year of the sisters.

Ennis Sisters begins with "Turn up the Radio," a tune that gets you to crank up the volume and keep it there for the whole CD. The song discusses the idea of growing up and learning to take on responsibilities that come with the territory, but you still want to be young and carefree. By turning up the radio, you're trying to drown out those responsibilities, at least for now.

"It's Not About You," the first single from the album, is receiving airplay across Canada on country and adult contemporary radio stations, along with a video which can be seen on CMT Canada and MuchMoreMusic. The song talks about a goal and the pursuer of that goal. Don't allow yourself to have the goal take control of you, you need to take control of it.

"Never Walk Away," which will be the next single, is a song that Maureen wrote for Teresa as healing after a relationship ended. It talks about the respect we should have for each other and if it isn't there, to get out of that situation. The youthfulness of the girls comes through in "Kiss Him." In life, you can sit there talking about doing something or you can just do it.

Maureen seems to be able to writes songs in any situation. In the huge snowstorm that Newfoundland received this past winter, Maureen was out shoveling snow and injured her arm. In the emergency room of the St. John's hospital, where pain had soured her mood, her sister looked at her and said "sometimes it's so hard to love you." Maureen's reaction -- "there's a song in there." So she went out to the lobby and wrote "All Over Again."

Family is very important to the Ennis Sisters and they include a song dedicated to their parents on this album. "October Wind" finishes off the CD in a quiet, thoughtful way. The song was written last October when they were heading out on tour for the first time without their parents. By looking at the same stars in the sky, they could stay close and know they were in each others thoughts.

The Ennis Sisters are also wonderful musicians. Maureen plays the guitar and Karen plays the bodhran and tin whistle. Teresa and Karen are also wonderful Irish dancers. They have a full band on the album, which adds a nice full sound.

Although this album is not traditional in the songs, these original modern songs contain traditional messages and bring Newfoundland to the world. The girls are wonderful ambassadors for the province and are very proud of their background. If it wasn't for the kitchen parties they had growing up, we wouldn't know about them today.

The Ennis Sisters are in a career that they love and it comes through in their music. By singing your own material, it definitely brings a real feeling to the music because it's your own and you can put so much feeling into the performance.

This album is certainly a feel-good CD, which at this time is really needed. A smile comes to your face while listening, and you'll be singing along to the music before you know it! Keep an eye on their tour schedule and go see them if they are in your area. It will be the feel-good show of the year!

[ by Kimberley Marie ]
Rambles: 2 February 2002

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