Archive for classical

Hayley Westenra’s “Treasure”

Posted in Hayley Westenra, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 26 March, 2009 by Nicola

I cannot even begin to describe the amount of sweat and tears that went into trying to understand this album.  The amount of effort I put into this CD to try and like it.  I was waiting for some miracle, some revelation to appear out of thin air, as to why this album tends to be a favourite among Hayley Westenra fans.  Why it is so highly esteemed, why it is the pivot of discussion.  I am not so lucky this time.  I have failed.  I officially don’t get it.

Let me start with the postives.  I do enjoy two songs on this album and tellingly they are two songs that are co-written by Westenra herself.  ‘Let Me Lie’ and ‘Summer Rain’ are clear standout tracks from what is otherwise a highly predictable album. Continue reading

Hayley Westenra’s “Prayer”

Posted in Hayley Westenra, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 24 March, 2009 by Nicola

I am going to take a wild stab in the dark here and guess that no matter what type of music you listen to, that most Eastern country, Japan, has laughed in your face before when they received the coolest edition of that coolest album by the coolest artist.  Damn them.  Us Westerners are never content with our 12 track albums, we want the four bonus track edition that Japan or Taiwan have.  All the more reason to hop over CDJapan and make an account.  This beautiful album, Prayer, released only for the Japanese market is no exception.  It’s actually a goldmine what mouth-watering tracks for any Hayley Westenra fan.

This album basically has lots of tracks recorded by Westenra that are otherwise scattered all over the place.  To put this into perspective, if you want to buy all of these tracks without buying this album, you will have to buy up to twelve albums to make up the tracklisting.  You see how awesome this album is now?  Continue reading

Hayley Westenra’s “Odyssey”

Posted in Hayley Westenra, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 23 March, 2009 by Nicola

I have been putting off writing this review for a very long time.  Why?  The simple truth is that I could not quite decide how to review this album.  At first, I was quite content to review the first edition of Odyssey that I obtained, the one I know really well, but just out of curiousity, I picked the later edition up, the UK special edition, to see what the difference was.  I was struck stupid to realise that there’s a ten track difference.  You read that correctly. 

‘Well’, I thought, ‘this is stupid’.  Maybe I was too busy staring at paint and watching the sun rise and set to notice any commotion over at ‘TEAM HAYLEY WESTENRA‘ (i.e. the ever trustworthy HWI who have since told me that my original edition was never a UK edition) over this confusing blip in her discography, but I am on my own here, and I don’t quite know what to make of it.  It’s like I have had this hidden second album all this time without even realising it.  I don’t even know why I bought it, especially as I am quite strongly of the ‘SCREW YOUR MANY EDITIONS OF THE SAME ALBUM’ sentiment.

Okay, so if I could only let go of the fact that I basically have two different albums here under the same name, I could actually discuss the album(s). Continue reading

Hayley Westenra: In Her Own Voice

Posted in Books, Hayley Westenra, Music with tags , , , , , , , on 22 February, 2009 by Nicola

Many would consider Hayley Westenra to not have walked the earth long enough to justify an autobiography (plus the fact that this is her second book; an authorised biography, The World At Her Feet, written by Paul Little was published in 2004) but to dismiss this book on that criteria would be a shame. Of course it does not have the intrigues and knowledgeable voice of someone in their fifties, who has endured love lost and found, career setbacks and so fourth, but this book is not really supposed to be about that. At twenty years old at the time of writing the book, Westenra simply wants to document her young life in its own little chapter. Although Darren Henley helps write the book, it is told in the first person, and Henley succeeds at projecting out Westenra’s personality.

This book’s most appealing trait, perhaps, is the inside look of the music industry, not just from anyone’s eyes, but through the eyes of a child, and later a naive teenager. Hayley documents her journey through the industry with innocent sincerity, and what is so beautiful about it all is that she is still young enough to remember everything with utmost clarity; an advantage she has over older autobiographers. There is something charming about reading about the world through so much naivety and innocence. She will lose this narrative voice when she gets older so I can hardly regret that she has written this autobiography early on in her life. Continue reading

Hayley Westenra’s “My Gift To You”

Posted in Hayley Westenra, Music with tags , , , , , , on 10 February, 2009 by Nicola

Hayley Westenra‘s second release in New Zealand is not much different from her first.  My Gift To You was rushed out for the Christmas of 2001 after her success of her debut.  Essentially, it is a Christmas album and probably not entirely appropriate to review in February, but it can be listened to anytime due to five neutral tracks.

What makes this album standout next to the debut is the first appearence of ‘Pokarekare Ana’, a traditional Maori song.  Westenra is probably most well known for singing this track and although Hayley went on to re-record it for subsequent albums, this original arrangement sets the premise of her international marketing tool, and that is the purity of her voice.  ‘Pokarekare Ana’ is the perfect song for Westenra.  It does not demand emotional delivery, and has the sweet, mild temperament of its singer.  The version on this album starts off as an acapella, showcasing the bell like clarity of her voice, until a vague arrangement of meek instruments quietly seep through her vocals.  I have always felt that this is the exact treatment this song, and Westenra, deserves, but as she went upmarket with Decca, overproduction ensued. Continue reading

Hayley Westenra’s Debut Self-Titled Album

Posted in Hayley Westenra, Music with tags , , , , , , , on 6 February, 2009 by Nicola

When I put this album on again after so many years just to write this review, I found myself pleasantly surprised.  After spending so many years insisting that this album was quite poor and was not worthy of any attention I must have lowered my expectations for it considerably, for I now feel quite differently and think that I was wrong to dismiss it so easily.

This album was recorded by Westenra at the tender age of thirteen, though you probably would not have been able to guess that was the case.  It was released only in her native New Zealand, and then Australia in 2001.  It charted extremely well, a kind of success that mirrored that of Charlotte Church over here in the UK.  Of course, at such a young age, and being so unknown, there would have been an issue of what to record.  Her company decided to play it safe, as you only can do with such young singers, and compiled some musical and traditional standards.  Continue reading

Hayley Westenra Marathon: Introduction

Posted in Hayley Westenra, Music with tags , , , , , , on 5 February, 2009 by Nicola

Well, here we are.  As promised, a ‘Hayley Westenra Marathon’, if you like.  Over the next week or so I will be reviewing all of her studio albums, a live concert (I will be seeing her on the 15th February with Jonathan Ansell) and other tidbits such as her biography, best websites, etc.

My relationship with Hayley has always been rocky, and I have actually been more disappointed by her albums rather than satisfied.  In truth, I have only really ever liked just one of her albums.  Others verge on average for me, whilst the others are just dull.  So why am I fan?  Can I even be referred to as a fan? Continue reading