Next week, Hayley Westenra, one of my favorite vocalists, releases her latest album - Paradiso. I previously reviewed Celtic Treasure in 2007, so with her forthcoming release I thought it was time to share that review here:
Hayley Westenra's third CD, Celtic Treasure, is a somewhat misnamed as it isn't strictly "Celtic" -- it's an eclectic collection of songs that perfectly showcases her crystalline soprano. The disc features several favorites that are staples on Celtic music releases, such as "Scarborough Fair," "Danny Boy," and "The Water is Wide." Also included is "Last Rose of Summer," a gorgeous duet with Meav from the group Celtic Woman, a nod to Hayley's current involvement with that ensemble (as featured on the recently released A New Journey CD & DVD). Their voices blend beautifully. In addition to these well-known "classics," Hayley expands her artistic horizons with this album which features her in the roles of song writer, arranger, and pianist on a handful of selections. Two of her song writing efforts are particularly striking - "Let Me Lie" is a lovely, lyrical song with an arrangement that possesses a lush, almost cinematic quality, while "Summer Rain" features a driving rhythm reminiscent of Enya's classic "Orinoco Flow." There is a nod to the pop sensiblity that was exhibitied on Hayley's second disc, Odyssey, in songs like "Summer Fly" which recalls the jazz stylings of "I Say Grace" from that disc, allowing Hayley to "cut loose," this time on a toe-tapping, folk-flavored tune. Hayley's extraordinary talent has become more and more evident with each successive album, exhibiting a continued trend of artistic growth and vocal maturity. Her voice has lost none of the purity found in her 2003 debut (aptly titled Pure) or the ability to hit unbelievably high notes with apparent ease; rather, her voice possesses an added depth and richness indicative of her maturation as a vocalist. It's worth getting this album from Walmart, as there it includes a bonus track -- Hayley's version of Loreena McKennitt's "The Mummer's Prayer," which is wonderful. For fans of classical crossover artists like Sarah Brightman, Josh Groban, and Amici Forever, Hayley Westenra is a vocalist to watch. She consistently raises the bar with every release, cultivating her voice and skill, delivering each song as a perfectly polished gem.