Archive for New Zealand

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