(16 October 2005) Stunning! Exquisite! Pristine! Hayley Westenra has released a smashing new album, Odyssey (Decca Music (USA) B0005440-02, 2005), in which she performs a collection of songs to absolute perfection. This classically trained chanteuse has an angelic voice that is suited to music genres from pop/rock to classical. Her delivery is full of effortless clarity in this sophomoric release.
Odyssey showcases Hayley's incredible vocals in a repertoire of mainly classical songs, mixed with memorable contemporary covers such as Joni Mitchell’s "Both Sides Now" and the Celtic redition of Enya's "May It Be" from The Lord of the Rings soundtrack. The sound is compelling throughout this magnificent proliferation of songs with Hayley's inspirational and crystalline vocals.
This amazing album begins with the lilting and uplifting "Prayer." The listener can clearly see the progression from her debut album Pure released a couple of years ago. Her current CD reflects her growth from a budding teenage prodigy into a mature young woman. Her voice has amazing sensitivity and control with a lush, rich quality that comes with maturity and experience. "I was happy with Pure at the time, but I've moved on so much," says Hayley. "It's really exciting to have something new out there for people to listen to. I wanted to make a record that represented me as a person. And I think I've improved as a vocalist."--Audrey Elliot in New York
"I like to push myself, and I'm now confident enough to try different things. I have been much more involved behind the scenes with this album – I wanted to put my individual stamp on each song." She certainly does that with folk legend Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now." Hayley's version has a genuine and beautiful simplicity that accentuates her meticulous vocals.
"Never Saw Blue" is a flowing romantic ballad complemented by lovely piano and strings instrumentals. "This album just evolved. The material came from all over the place, but I deliberately chose songs that I could adapt to my own strengths. Adding strings, developing vocal theme, or actually simplifying an arrangement can produce a fresh take on well known songs."
Hayley's astounding range and effortless vocals are highlighted in the breathtaking duet "Dell' Amore Non Si Sa" with famed tenor Andrea Bocelli. The dramatic combination of their two magnificent voices create a sublime result. "What You Never Know (Won't Hurt You)" is a beautiful track co-written by Hayley with Stephan Moccio which was also featured on Sarah Brightman's 2003 Harem album. Hayley performs this piece to utter perfection.
Enya's "May It Be" is a most impressive cover with Hayley's gorgeous rendition of this flowing Celtic masterpiece. "When I was recording 'May It Be,' a song from The Lord Of The Rings, I pictured the New Zealand landscape around me to help me create the right atmosphere whilst singing." The melodic choral piece, "Quanta Qualia," has a mesmerizing effect on the listener, with Hayley's exquisite and ethereal operatic vocals backed by a magnificent choir.
"You Are Water" continues to highlight Hayley's extraordinary vocals with this lilting melody. A tin whistle introduces the beautiful Celtic tune, "She Moves Through The Fair." Her crystal clear voice certainly rings true in this song. "My grandmother was a singer. My grandfather played the piano and piano-accordion. A lot of my fondness for music came from them, and no doubt from their Welsh and Irish ancestry, too."
The lovely "My Heart Belongs To You" is an uplifting and sensational track with splendid layered vocals. She changes pace with Caccini's classic and beautiful "Ave Maria" in which Hayley sings to angelic perfection. "I Say Grace" is a wonderful Gospel song that exhibits her wonderful versatility of style. Hayley woos the listener with her emotive approach and distinctive, striking vocals.
While still primarily a classical crossover artist, Hayley touches on many different genres of music, broadening her horizons as well as the listeners. She has a pure, unadulterated natural ability in her vocals that is awe-ispiring. Since the age of fifteen, she has performed in front of presidents, prime ministers and royalty. She duetted with Andrea Bocelli, José Carreras, Bryn Terfel and Russell Watson as well as sung live at many prestigious sporting events in the UK, USA, New Zealand and Australia. She has also appeared as a special guest with the World’s leading orchestra’s including the Moscow Philharmonic, The Boston Pops and the London Philharmonic.
Pure bliss is the only way to describe this CD. Odyssey is an amazing collection of songs that is sure to uphold and propel her worldwide success. Hayley Westenra is a wonderfully gifted eighteen year old young woman who is not only beautiful, but extremely skillful and talented.
Her repertoire has broadened with her richness of tone and maturity of sound. Her singing is paramount and Hayley Westenra is a class act all the way.