Archive for Decca

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

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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’s “Pure”

Posted in Hayley Westenra, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , on 13 February, 2009 by Nicola

After Hayley Westenra‘s tremendous success in native New Zealand, she was picked up by Decca and they aimed their new artist towards the international market.  So, this slick, charming and creative album was made.  The quality and amount of effort put into it seems to have exploded from nowhere.  Whilst Westenra’s vocals had matured slightly, she still struggled with injecting any emotion into the songs.  This album could have easily been another repeat of her debut album, but the song selection not only rescues it from such a fate, it also embodies the main strength of the release.

Pure works in a way that her previous album could never have done for two reasons.  First, the tracklisting is quite adventurous.  Any average music lover may have glanced over the tracklist and saw only two or three songs that they were already familiar with (I would guess at ‘Amazing Grace’, ‘In Trutina’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’).  Most crossover albums rely on the majority of their tracklist to act as a security blanket to the buyer: if they know the songs, they know what they are buying.  No risk.  It is a little bit surprising then, that Westenra somehow managed to shift enough CDs in the first week of release that it became the fastest-selling debut classical album in the UK’s history.   How? 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 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

Three Graces: Their Debut Album

Posted in Music, Three Graces with tags , , , , , , , , , on 26 January, 2009 by Nicola

Classical Crossover has become a huge market since Sarah Brightman and Vanessa-Mae began to lead the way in the mid-nineties, and the genre has suffered plenty of quick market ploys on young singers and instrumentalists that are not expected to last, but the companies can get their quick buck, and it’s an achievement for the artists to get a second album.

Decca, the same label that homes Hayley Westenra, however, has bigger plans for this classical pop girl group that have been dubbed as the female Il Divo. The effort put into this group is easy to see scanning the names of the producers and song-writers – some of the biggest names in America. The album is slick and the production is squeakingly polished. The three girls are stunning to look at and are brought in from different areas of music in the same way the UK’s All Angels were. The image of the group is effective; the name refers to Greek Mythology where the Three Graces were ‘beauty’, ‘wisdom’ and ‘charm’, three componants that their marketing team claim to be traits that shine through their vocal performances. Continue reading