Hayley Westenra: Pure CD
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Hayley Westenra - Pure - Cd
Pure is presented as 16-year-old New Zealand singer Hayley Westenra's first album, though it follows a chart-topping eponymous debut and follow-up Christmas disc, My Gift to You. Pure is still Hayley's first UK release, and capitalises on a rapid move into the international limelight following a duet with Russell Watson as part of his 2002 tour, now preserved on DVD as Russell Watson: The Voice (Live In New Zealand).
Comparisons with Charlotte Church are inevitable, yet Westenra has her own distinctive sound. She has impeccably clear diction coupled with a gorgeous voice with a very wide range: her high notes in the Kate Bush hit "Wuthering Heights" are especially striking, and like Bush she is also a dancer, having performed with the Royal New Zealand Ballet. If there's a problem, it's that Pure doesn't have a focus to match Westenra's talent, the tracks spanning everything from "Amazing Grace" to a Maori lullaby ("Hine e Hine") to hybrid pieces adapted from Ravel ("Never Say Goodbye") and Vivaldi's Four Seasons ("River of Dreams"). Ultimately what this set does demonstrate is that whatever direction Westenra finally settles on, she has the ability to go to the very top. For now she is a young artist finding her way, and for many listeners the result is Pure magic.--Gary S Dalkin
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When it was released in New Zealand, I bought it direct. I then bought the international version from Hong Kong. I couldn't wait any longer for it to come out in the UK.
Since I bought it I have been playing it almost non-stop. Well, certainly several times a day. Every song on it is an absolute delight to listen to and demonstrate Hayley's wonderful gift of one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard. She is invariably pitch-perfect, and the clarity of her voice is, in itself, entrancing. As well as this, she has a magnificent vocal range, which continually surprises me, even though I have spent so many hours listening to her.
So, her first international release is aptly titled "Pure". It is certainly an excellent definition of such a pure voice, and of the pure pleasure of listening to the album, either when considered by individual track or in it's entirety.
Pure is an eclectic mix of styles - crossover pop, classical and traditional Maori. Each completely different from the others, but complementing each other perfectly. As you listen to the various tracks, you will find them esoteric in parts, bold and powerful at other times, then ethereal, and then performed in a beautifully restrained and deeply moving way. And that doesn't even begin to cover it.
The combination of Hayley Westenra, Decca Classics, Sir George Martin, and his son Giles Martin has produced by far the best album I have heard in many years. It is, to say the least, masterful. In my opinion, this album is a "must have" for any music lover.
'Pure' features a lovely mix of songs, from the enchanting Maori lullaby 'Hine e Hine', to religious songs such as 'Amazing Grace' and 'Benedictus' and a great cover of the Kate Bush classic 'Wuthering Heights' . The album would be stunning from any singer: from a young girl whose voice is still developing, it is truly something to be treasured.
She is practically pitch-perfect, her breath control is amazing and the purity of her voice has to be heard to be believed. This from a 16 year old. I was a fan of the excellent Charlotte Church for a long time and I still love her music, but her voice relied too much on the use of vibrato, she was very breathy and always seemed to rush her songs. Hayley is a very welcome addition to an under-populated genre, in fact, she defies typical genre classification because of her easy grasp of such a broad range of styles. For instance, who could possibly do "Wuthering Heights" better than Kate Bush? No prizes for guessing.
"Pure" is an excellent album from a young artist with an awful lot of promise. Hear it and believe it.
The songs are a mixture of classical, popular and traditional, with some highly original and unexpected choices such as `River of Dreams' which is a transcription of Vivaldi's lovely violin solo `largo' from `The Four Seasons', and a powerful recording of `Benedictus' from the Karl Jenkins' album `The Armed Man - A Mass for Peace'.
The New Zealand traditionals, predictably chosen because of Hayley's origin from that country, are the beautiful love songs `Pokarekare Ana' and `Hine e Hine' which are performed with effortless grace.
But the version of the 1978 Kate Bush hit `Wuthering Heights' was for me a disappointment, failing to reach anything like the passion and intensity achieved by Kate Bush and her backing group. This one floats along comfortably like a nice love song but eventually fizzles out with a competent, but lacklustre, guitar solo.
The remaining songs though are good performances, and the alternative 2CD Special Edition with its Christmas songs and video track, will probably be the recommended choice, depending of course on cost.
On its original release Pure deservedly reached No. 8 in the UK Pop chart and No.1 in the UK Classical chart. It remains the fastest selling international debut album in the history of the UK Classical chart and the best selling artist of her native New Zealand's history, having been awarded Platinum status ten times over.
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