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Review 01 - by Keith S - 11th August 2001

Having had Hayley's CD sent to me in the UK from New Zealand I find that I have paid less for it than the standard price over the counter in this country. On top of that, I find that the sheer beauty of her voice, and her delivery of every single track makes this the best value for money I have ever had.

Hayley's voice is exquisite. I have often said that there is a difference between a good voice and a great voice. Hayley is the perfect example of this difference. Listen deep into the voice and there you will find that, on the edge of your hearing, there is a definite bell-like quality - the quality that all truly great voices have.

Then you start to listen to the delivery of each piece. The first track is Walking in the Air and, close your eyes, you are soaring through the clouds and experiencing the wonder of the piece. Why? Because of Hayley's understanding and superb delivery of the piece.

Moving through Bach's Ave Maria, you begin to see the incredible control which Hayley brings to this beautiful prayer. In itself, a wondrous thing. The reverence in her voice will stay with you for a long time to come.

Then we go on to the shows beginning with "Memory". Delivered with the finest depth of feeling I have heard from the many versions recorded over the years. We go on then to "All I Ask Of You from Phantom of the Opera". In this rendition, another facet of Hayley's voice is demonstrated, as is her superb ability to sing duets. You also discover the incredible range she has. All of her notes being achieved absolutely pitch perfect - even to the very highest.

Once again, Hayley's interpretation of "Somewhere" makes it the best I version I know (Even P. J. Proby couldn't stand in the same company as Hayley) and on we go to "The Mists Of Islay" - a song I had never heard before. I was struck immediately by the lilting, hauntingly beautiful melody. Yet again, delivered perfectly by Hayley.

So she goes, track after track, through Schubert's Ave Maria, Bright Eyes, Pie Jesu, Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again, I Dreamed a Dream, Love Changes Everything and God Defend New Zealand.

Finally, we reach Amazing Grace, in which Hayley is joined by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. If you hadn't experienced it with any of the preceding tracks, you will with this one. The feeling it gave me was like ice-water running down my spine and the small hairs on the nape of my neck prickled. The control is there. The pipes and drums are a perfect accompaniment to her voice. The hymn is delivered with reverence and true feeling. It is so perfect that you will be struck by the incredible power it contains. It stirs the soul.

Hayley Westenra is, in my humble opinion, the greatest talent in the world today. She has the ability to bring all the emotions to bear through her singing. This is a power longed for by many and achieved by few - in fact, only by the truly great. I am privileged to be the owner of this CD and to have been so moved by this beautiful young lady. Over the years to come, this is one entertainer who will storm the very highest ramparts of the music world and conquer them with ease.

God bless you, Hayley. From a hopelessly devoted fan.

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