"PURE" by Hayley Westenra

A Review by Keith.

One of the things that I have found very difficult since receiving my CD from New Zealand is choosing a favourite track. I have been playing the album several times every day and find that every track has something unique about it. Just when I thought I was coming to a decision, I decided to put my headphones on and turn the volume up a little. This gave me a whole new listening experience and threw me right back to square one. The big benefit of that is that I am now listening to it yet again and loving every moment.

Anyway, I am going to try and give an objective review:

Track 1 - Who Painted The Moon Black
This is so deep and full of feeling that it makes you feel as though you are experiencing the emotions contained within this song.

Track 2 - Beat Of Your Heart
This song is just so different from any other I have ever heard. It is difficult to quantify it other than it is a celebration of the power of love and the comfort that giving your love to another can bring.

Track 3 - Never Say Goodbye
A complete contrast to the previous track. It is a song about the regret and longing experienced when love between two people dies. It seems to me that, in so few words, it encompasses the whole range of feelings that come at such a time.

Track 4 - Dark Waltz
The mood of the album turns again. This time praising the eternal quality of love. It likens the journey through time as a dance - and maybe it really is.

Track 5 - Heaven
Yet another turn. This time the song is about being parted by death. Seems an odd choice for such a vibrant young lady to sing. But, in reality, this song is a celebration of the certainty that they will be reunited in the future.

Track 6 - In Trutina
This is yet another of my all-time favourites. Over the years I have heard this song performed by some of the world's greatest singers. Each gave it a little something of their own. This version has to be one of the finest I have ever heard. Hayley's voice is just so beautiful performing this piece.

Track 7 - Across The Universe Of Time
In some ways, this song is in a similar vein to Heaven. And yet, in so many other ways it is totally different. It is the story of a journey and the joy of reaching the end of that journey. It is so powerfully performed by Hayley as to take you by surprise. A complete new facet of this amazing artist.

Track 8 - River Of Dreams
This song is one that I will say no more about than it is absolutely divine. Yet again, Hayley shows how perfect her voice is for this kind of song and how magnificently she performs it.

Track 9 - Wuthering Heights
Over many years, I have heard this song played on the radio and TV, never really getting to like it very much. Then again, I was never particularly a fan of Kate Bush and was not overly impressed by the falsetto voice she used. Now, I love this song when performed by Hayley. She sings it in her soprano register to absolute perfection.

Track 10 - My Heart And I
This is almost religious. A plea for love and peace. I can think of no-one more suited to sing it than Hayley, especially as she recently became New Zealand's Ambassasor to UNICEF. Hayley sings this with such reverence that it leaves the listener with no choice but to love it.

Track 11 - Benedictus
This is just so divine. I've used that word again, but I don't know how to express myself any better. There is one thing I will say, half way through this track, the first-time listener is in for a surprise. It is so powerful and beautifully done. The nearest thing to it that I can think of is the Rossini Crescendo - but this is a thousand percent better. A full orchestra and choir in full flow, counterbalanced by the sheer beauty of Hayley's voice is a master-stroke.

Track 12 - Hine e Hine
The introduction to this track is spoken in Maori - and it appears again elsewhere in the track - and is so evocative. And, like Pokarekare Ana, Hayley performs this with such perfection. It is refined, restrained and so peaceful. It is just so obviously a Maori lullaby. Once again, I delight in the beauty of the Maori people and their culture and all thanks to Hayley's fabulous delivery.

So, you see my problem. There is something about every track that appeals to me in it's own right. When it is so difficult to compare one with another except in the most fleeting of ways, how does one pick a favourite track. So, I am not going to. I am going to simply say that I love every note, every word, every second of this, Hayley's first international album. And, as I write this, we have the news that Pure is no. 1 in the Australian Classical Chart and no. 17 in their Pop Charts (and undoubtedly climbing) AND that it is no. 1 in the New Zealand Pop Charts. So, I think it is fair to say that there are a great many people who agree with me.

Thank you, Hayley. With this album, I have experienced so much and yet find that there is so much more to experience each time I listen to it.

From a devoted fan.
July 29, 2003


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